The Return of Live Theater to Edgemont and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Two years ago on March 13th, our school closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and everything as we had known it completely changed. Classes moved online, spring sports were canceled, group in-person get-togethers were virtually nonexistent, and the popularity of zoom and google hangouts rose. In the Fall of 2021, we returned back to school hybrid, and extracurricular activities began once again, with whatever restrictions necessary. However, activities like band, chorus, and theater were unable to have their concerts at the end of each semester. The art department took a drastic hit, and our hard-working musicians and actors moved performances online and became used to recording and iMovie splicing.
Grease on March 5th, 6th, 7th in 2020 was the last in-person live show at Edgemont, just missing the coronavirus upheaval one week later. The arts, in general, took a devastating blow, because their number one source of revenue was in live audiences. However, Edgemont was fortunate enough to be able to have a live show, with masks, and a small audience. Rehearsals took place outside, or when upon the stage six feet apart. This was fall 2020, and the height of Covid-19 at school, therefore, extreme caution was taken in order to be able to perform live. On Friday, Nov. 13th and Saturday, Nov. 14, 13 The Laramie Project was live-streamed to well over 500 people, on three continents, as far away as Korea. People also watched all over the U.S., Israel, Columbia, along with a small in-person audience.
“Doing online theater took all of the fun aspects out of being in a show. We never really got to interact with our friends or collaborate to create a piece of authentic art. Although I was grateful for the opportunity, the whole experience was kind of sterile and I’m glad to be able to put on live shows again.”
Urinetown was Edgemont’s first, and hopefully last, Zoom show. The “Zoomsical” was fully online including rehearsals in which students danced in their own bedrooms, hung their own green screens, and set up their own ring lights. Senior Eva Reduto, an avid participant in Edgemont theater, said that “personally, doing online theater took all of the fun aspects out of being in a show. We never really got to interact with our friends or collaborate to create a piece of authentic art. Although I was grateful for the opportunity, the whole experience was kind of sterile and I’m glad to be able to put on live shows again.” Kimi Krasner, a sophomore, can second that sentiment: “I’m so excited to have an in-person show this year! Even though we were able to have a successful show online last year, it’s not the same as being able to perform and connect on stage with your cast members. The show is also much more exciting when you can hear the cheers and reactions from the crowd as the show goes on.” While the directors did an amazing job of piecing together the multiple clips into one coherent show, the experience was incomparable to a normal in-person show. The theater is all about community and sharing a passion with those who have common interests. Working together to create art to share with those you love in the dark audience. It’s hard to be authentic and vulnerable with the audience while performing in front of a camera because it changes from onstage theater to on-camera performance.
This fall of 2021, Edgemont Theater put on an incredible rendition of The Crucible. After weeks of vigorous stage work, characterization, and pilgrim costumes the “witches” of Salem were ready to be put on trial. However, there were some difficulties with the live stream, and through cyberspace, the recording was distorted, and nearly unwatchable. This was a blow for every cast member of the show, as the in-person audience was still going to be limited. Because all that hard work was virtually lost, arts’ students had high hopes and expectations for this year's Spring Musical: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
The Senior Options show will also be live this year, and actors can choose to be unmasked. In last year's production for the Senior Options Project, the seniors ingeniously used the breeze-ways as a set and stage for the play Clue. This year our seniors will be putting on a production of Steel Magnolias as their last hurrah on the Edgemont stage. It seems like live theater will be making a full comeback to Edgemont.