The Show Must Go On


Photo by Steve Rohrbaugh

With COVID-19 affecting many extracurricular activities, school clubs, and even classes, the musical theater program was no exception. From losing their director to having to perform while following COVID-19 safety measures, the program was presented with many challenges. Nevertheless, thanks to Mr. Farmer and the cast, the program was able to thrive.


The musical theater program decided to do Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach this year. “It is about a young orphan, James, who is sent to live with his two terrible aunts,” sophomore tech member and choreographer Tenaya Frandsen said. “He runs into a bit of magic and ends up going on a wonderful adventure that teaches him the true meaning of family. It sounds cheesy, but it’s really good.”


Mrs. McCormick—the musical theater director in previous years—had to step down from the musical theater program this year in order to homeschool her kids. Mr. Farmer, the drama teacher, stepped up to produce the show. “Mr. Farmer has done a great job directing this year, with the many challenges that have come up due to Covid,” sophomore Ladybug Vocalist Simri Hurbon said. “He has worked so hard to make sure that we could have a show, and I am so grateful for his hardwork and dedication.” When Mr. Farmer took over, there were some changes to the program. “One thing that has been different is that Mrs. McCormick did both musical direction and stage direction,” Hurbon said. “This year, Mr. Farmer has just focused on the stage direction aspect, while Mr. Roberson has been handling the music direction.” There were also more opportunities within the program for students this year. “This year it seems like there are more student opportunities like choreographing, helping with costuming, and working backstage,” Frandsen noted. 


On top of adjusting to the changes the new director brought, musical theater students had to follow COVID-19 safety measures while performing and practicing. “When we first began rehearsals for practicing our music, we practiced outside, socially distanced and wearing masks,” Hurbon said. “This made it a little difficult to hear each other, due to the cars on Valley Parkway, and difficult to sing, due to the masks.” As the year went on, students were eventually allowed to practice inside. “Once we finished learning our music, we practiced our scenes and choreography inside of Caiman Hall; continuing to wear masks and social distance,” Hurbon said. As for the actual show, there were some creative adjustments made to accommodate COVID-19 guidelines. “The solution to [mics conflicting with wearing masks was] having vocalists and puppets,” said Frandsen. “The vocalists for the leads [said] the lines and [sang] the songs without masks (they [were] on boxes that [were] socially distanced on stage), and the puppeteers [wore] the costumes and [did] the acting. The ensemble [had] to pre-record any songs they [were] in, and the musical director, Mr. Roberson, [mixed] all the voices together to create tracks that [played] during the musical so the ensemble [could] wear masks. Mr. Farmer focused a lot on teaching the vocalists how to act with only their voices, and he [taught] the puppeteers how to show all emotions through movement.”


With more and more positive cases of COVID-19, musical theater students had to play it safe by taking extra precautions. “Mr. Farmer asked us to be careful and try to stay as healthy as possible so there [were] no complications,” Frandsen said. “Our last two rehearsals before tech week were cancelled so there would be no spread of COVID-19 during those practices.” Everything went smoothly and the students were able to perform after making many adjustments. “The performances [were] at 8 pm on April 29-May 2,” Hurbon said. “All audience members [were] seated in ‘pods’ with their group. The maximum number of people per pod [was] six. We [performed] the show in the fenced-off student parking lot across from the school.”


Due to COVID-19, the musical theater program faced many obstacles this year. But, in the end, the show did indeed go on.


Photo by Steve Rohrbaugh