‘The Show Must Go On(line)’ reinvents the nature of theatre


Annabella Ferraiuolo

During a dance rehearsal, students work to learn the choreography while sophomore Ben Schanzer works with the tech crew to get the auditorium ready for the filming of the musical.

Ava Aymie, A&E Editor

As this school year turns virtual, it is only natural that the school musical does as well. Despite this setback, the ARHS Dramahawk community is reinventing the nature of theatre through this year’s production, while they overcome the obstacles of COVID-19.

This year’s school musical, “The Show Must Go On(line),” directed by Fine and Performing Arts teacher Maura Morrison and science teacher Brian Kelly, will be showcased through a free livestream on YouTube on December 10 and 11 at 7 pm.

According to Morrison, the show is a collection of performances that will consist of two choreographed dances, seven monologues and nine vocal numbers from the diverse cast.

“We are calling it ‘The Show Must Go On(line),’ but it’s a cabaret-type show because we are creating it in terms of cherry-picked content from different musical theatre,” Morrison said.

Unlike previous musicals, there is no set lead or linear plot. Instead, it focuses on the message of the music rather than developing characters.

“Every piece highlights either an attitude or an experience or something that reflects overcoming a challenge or how we deal with challenges,” Kelly said. “So the theme is resilience, courage and strength.”

Although the show must go on, there are COVID-19 regulations that affect the way the show is put together. According to Morrison, the production was only possible with the help of chief production engineer sophomore Ben Schanzer and his tech crew.

“The singers are recording at home and are sending us their videos,” Schanzer said. “The monologues are being recorded in the auditorium one at a time with a green screen and backdrops behind them and the dances are recorded in the auditorium as well. Then we are putting it all together into one video that will be livestreamed over YouTube.”

With regulations changing and the need to constantly adapt, Schanzer is proud of his team’s work.

“Dana Gaudette has been doing a lot of our graphic designs for our posters and logos,” Schanzer said. “[Sophomore] Fred Probst has been doing all of our lighting, [sophomore] Owen Jones does a lot of our sound engineering, [junior] Jared Lipkin has been coordinating the communications with the cast and I’ve been working alongside Jared with the cast making sure that our team of four is getting everything done.”

With this year’s play relying heavily on technology, the tech crew is constantly learning about how to put on a production.

“I’m learning as I go,” Schanzer said. “There has been a lot of watching YouTube, and Owen has a friend who does professional production work who has been a huge help to us.”

Despite the challenges, the cast and crew face due to COVID-19, they don’t let it affect their motivation in putting on a great performance and keeping a positive mindset. 

“It’s given me a different perspective on things,” cast member junior Juan Benatuil said. “I’m excited to do something different and I think it will be cool for everyone to see.” 

This year, everyone who auditioned for the show was able to be a part of it. This created a diverse ensemble filled with various skills.

“Everyone has different talents,” cast member junior Thomas David said. “There’s a whole variety of different things that people are doing this year and everyone is coming together and still able to work through a virus.”

The absence of traditional leads has not affected the cast in a negative way.

“Everything has its pros and cons,” cast member senior Miranda Slingluff said. “As much as [the virtual nature of the show] has taken away that community aspect that plays can build when the real characters have real relationships, it’s also made it more accessible for people to show different strengths because we don’t have to fit one specific skill set, so there are a lot more ways for people to be featured in a more equitable way.”

Students can sign up to watch “The Show Must go On(line)” through a QR code on posters throughout the school or by visiting register.dramahawks.com. The cast and crew hope the people tune in to gain a sense of normalcy in this unusual school year.

“A little bit of music makes everything better,” Slingluff said. “It’s nice to have a set hour of forgetting everything that’s going on to watch a play like we used to.”