One of a Kind

This year’s musical, “Matilda,” looked incredibly different compared to previous shows

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Anna Gayley

Shoshie Hemley ’21 and Rachel Meehan ’21 perform a song.

Sophia Wagner, Arts & Entertainment Editor

The lights of the auditorium fade to darkness. Backstage, hushed whispers rise to the rafters. Actors peek around the curtain, attempting to locate their friends and family seated around Opstad. This year, however, the limited audience capacity for City High’s spring musical made these familiar faces easier to find. This adjustment was made in an effort to minimize the risk of COVID-19 spread. 

City High teacher Jennifer Brinkmeyer, the head director of “Matilda,” explained how the pandemic factored into this year’s show. The cast, script, and set were all cut down in order to create an abridged version of the original musical in an attempt to construct a safer environment. Members of the cast and crew found themselves adjusting to this new adaptation. Lily VanderLinden ’21, the stage manager for “Matilda,” explained the unique experience faced by those involved in the production.

“Being stage manager of this production was a one-of-a-kind experience,” VanderLinden said. “The cast and crew overcame many challenges to make this happen. For example, all vocal rehearsals were via Zoom.” 

Ana Leyser ‘22 was cast as a “Little Kid” in the show, and pointed out that rehearsals could be incredibly challenging when conducted in an online format. Shaking her head, Leyser thought back to logging into rehearsal after classes ended for the day. 

“It was very bad,” Leyser said. “First of all, there were a lot of technological barriers. The Zoom would cut out and I would miss part of the songs. I also couldn’t listen to the other vocal parts during rehearsals, so it was fairly difficult to learn the songs.”

VanderLinden was aware of the challenge that virtual practices presented, and expressed concern in regards to the situation. 

“I was quite saddened by this because I really wanted to make this an enjoyable experience for everyone, but this was a non-negotiable aspect of producing a musical during a pandemic,” VanderLinden said. “It showed how dedicated my cast was to doing their best and to making the musical sound fantastic but I couldn’t resolve it. Additionally, it denied them the opportunity to connect in person. This connection is one of the best parts of theatre.”

After weeks of rehearsing vocal parts over Zoom, students met in a City High band room to record the songs. During the live show, these recordings would be playing in the background as the cast performed the choreography onstage. 

“Recording was very stressful,” Leyser said. “Whatever we recorded was going to be what we used for every single show, so we were pressured to do really well.” 

Despite the incredibly different circumstances under which “Matilda” fell, students were still enthused to take part in a City High Drama Production. Eviann Smith ‘24 auditioned for the first time this year, and she felt that although the production could be stressful at times, it proved to be entirely worthwhile.

“It’s been a really great experience,” Smith said. “I’m really glad I went out for the musical and tried something new. [“Matilda” has] definitely been hectic these past few weeks. I’ve been really nervous with all the quarantines around school, but we have been trying to be as safe as possible. We really wanted this opportunity to perform. It’s a great group of people and it’s been really fun.”