Despite many COVID-19 restrictions, being a part of the school musical has been worth it (Commentary)

The Mead High School theatre has been creatively assembling The Sound of Music for its annual spring musical all the while navigating the complex challenges imposed by COVID restrictions

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Students rehearse for the upcoming musical The Sound of Music.

Natalie Yoder, Guest Writer

Commentaries are a type of opinion writing where the writer shares their personal experience with an event or topic while also reporting on the subject. 

When I tell someone I’m going to be playing in the pit orchestra, the first question they ask is how?

Though this is my first time participating in the pit orchestra, it’s very clear that this is not a typical year. 

The most surprising thing to everyone is that we have to play wearing masks. Most wind players have cut small holes in their masks in order to play, while flutes simply place their instrument under the mask. Along with the masks, musicians are required to be socially distanced, place instrument covers at the end of our bells, and (perhaps the most bothersome restriction): we must vacate the auditorium every 30 minutes to let the room air out.

This then begs the question — how effective are these restrictions? Isn’t cutting a hole in our masks going to render them useless? 

Emily Stewart (‘21) said she did not think the restrictions did much, but that they were helpful in some cases. 

“For the band instruments, [the restrictions are not helpful] I mean, I guess for the airing out, it’s effective because we’re not in there for 6 hours straight… It’s better than nothing,” Stewart said. 

Of course, the pit orchestra is not the main star of the show. It’s the actors that make the musical what it is, and they have their fair share of restrictions as well. 

Actors wear masks and socially distance, but that’s not all. The stage has been taped off, creating boxes that are about 6 feet. When actors sing in one of these boxes, no one else can enter that box until the auditorium has been aired out. Again, this leads to breaks every 30 minutes.

Due to the recurring breaks in our rehearsal, practice time was added. For the two weeks before the rehearsal, all cast, crew, and orchestra members were required to attend practice from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. every evening. 

Some might question whether this is worth it — between the challenges of COVID restrictions and the all consuming rehearsal schedule, what makes participating in the musical worthwhile? 

Performing Arts teacher Ms. Abigail Kodhler referenced her own time playing in the pit when she was a student and said it is part of what makes conducting the orchestra meaningful.

“I had such a great experience being in the pit. It was arguably probably my favorite musical thing to do when I was in high school.” 

Tyler Porter (‘23), one of the actors in the musical, acknowledges that the play looks different and they have had to minimize what they’d normally do for a similar production.

“Even though it’s the bare minimum of things, it’s still a lot of fun. The scenes are a lot of fun to do, and even though there won’t be a live audience, we’ll still be able to share the show.”

Though 12 hours at school is asking a good deal of students, when I’m sitting in the pit, whether I’m actually playing or simply watching the actors, I remember I’m not the only one who is tired. 

But, thanks to all the work put in by the cast, crew, orchestra, and most importantly people like Ms Berry and Ms Mackey, we still get to put on a musical this year, despite the challenges. 

Virtual performances will be available on Apr. 22, Apr. 23rd, Apr. 29, and Apr. 30.