The pandemic caused many school activities to be canceled over the past year, but this spring, some high schools are safely rehearsing to put on theatrical performances in the coming weeks.
Connellsville Area High School will be performing their 51st annual musical this year. The show is “Footloose” and will be performed live June 3-6 in the CAHS auditorium.
Michelle L. Harbaugh, musical director at CAHS, said more than 50 students are cast in the production and an additional 30 to 40 students are involved in other ways, such as stage crew, ushers and orchestra members.
With so many people in the show, Harbaugh said blocking the movement of the show was challenging, as they are following social distancing throughout the show. Other challenges, however, have been minimal, she said.
“We’ve moved our choral rehearsals to a bigger more ventilated space in the school, students are rehearsing with masks on and have rehearsed with smaller groups of students when possible,” she said. “Our students have been great with adapting.”
Harbaugh said she chose the show “Footloose” because it is a fun show that brings joy in a rough time.
“I feel we all need a little bit of light-hearted entertainment right now,” she said. “I think the audience will love the music, high energy dance numbers and the colorful 80's costumes. Most people of a certain age remember the movie and have enjoyed this music and story when they were younger.”
She said she hopes the audience leaves after the show with a smile and positive attitude.
Public ticket sales for the show begin on May 11.
Uniontown Area High School is performing a musical titled, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” with a cast of nine students, in person on May 20 and 22.
Wyatt Wilson, music director at UAHS, said rehearsals started in March and have been going well so far.
The show is a comedy about quirky characters that are all trying to take home the trophy for the county spelling bee. Wilson said one of his favorite aspects of the show is how each of the characters has a clear arch in the show.
“Whether winner or loser, they come away with a new sense of purpose,” he said. “It’s really nice to see everything come together in the end.”
Wilson said the biggest challenge was figuring out what they could do during the pandemic, while social distancing, so they chose a musical with a small cast.
Sophomore Claire White plays a character in the show and said she is enjoying the production so far. She said she believes the comedy show will bring some light into the lives of the audience.
“I just really want [the audience] to relax and enjoy the show and forget about all their worries,” she said.
She said she and the other cast members are doing their best to communicate with each other and build relationships, despite the masks and social distancing, so that they can portray realistic relationships on the stage.
The school will also be performing the play “Seven Nasty Witches" in June.
Instead of performing a musical this year, Albert Gallatin High School is recording a performance of songs from various past musicals the school has done, including “The Addam’s Family,” “Seussical,” “Grease,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Annie” and more.
Megan Cerullo, co-director of the performance, said the performance will also include interviews with past and current directors of the shows.
“We put together our own show,” Cerullo said. “We decided to look back over the past 20 years of musicals we did here, and feature songs from each of those shows.”
Cerullo said not only current students will be involved in the production, but some 2020 seniors will be coming back to participate as well, as they were not able to perform a musical last year due to the pandemic. About 20 students and past students are involved.
They will show the recording of the performance in June, though a final date has not yet been determined.