The Bellefonte High School Drama club is back again with another show-stopping performance – albeit with a twist. In a year marred with quarantines and masks, all have been forced to adapt, and for Drama students, the situation was no different.
This year, instead of one cumulative performance, there were several, smaller shows featuring various scenes from Little Shop of Horrors, Singing in the Rain, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and Fiddler on the Roof. Following the year’s abnormalities, there were no leads, but rather moments for each participating actor to share the spotlight. Additionally, each performance was filmed in advance, without a live audience, and, though not currently available as of press time, will be published to the school district’s performing arts YouTube channel, “BASD Performing Arts.”
The most difficult transition this year, however, according to Choir teacher and Theatre Director Mr. Eric Brinser, was “re-imagining an activity that is based on human interaction as socially distant for safety.”
“[We’ve] had to deal with students being put into quarantine at various points during the rehearsal and performance process,” he said.
Quarantines, in fact, shifted one scene to a mixture of live performances and Google Meet performances, as Mr. Brinser said “one actor was put into quarantine that day, so we adjusted on the fly and made it work.”
Such quick change was something to be satisfied with, Brinser affirmed.
“I’m proud of the fact that they [Drama students] were able to overcome so much and still create theatre. I tried to help them focus on what was available to them and less on what was being missed. As a result, we were able to explore some material that otherwise would not have been accessible to the group. That is something they have that former students did not.”
These students, whose work Brinser called “commendable,” labored tirelessly to come together and solve the issues brought on by COVID-19. As there were four performances, multiple students were given the opportunity to try out directive positions, or experience their first solo or featured speaking lines.
In Little Shop of Horrors, senior Shannon Anderson led the scene’s music, while junior Claire Topper acted as Stage Manager. Eddie Henry, Nicholas Mitchell, Kate Leonori, Cecilia Mazzacco, Rebecca Methven, and Alyssa Packer performed.
Singing in the Rain was directed by senior Ashtyn Harter, and featured students Achilles Brown, Jacob Henry, and Cecilia Mazzacco.
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying saw junior Jace Beauton act as Student Director, with fellow classmate Rebekah Anthony as Stage Manager. Olivia Haagen, Ashtyn Harter, Rebecca Methven, Candy Miller, Cecilia Stanton, and Hailey Williams performed.
Lastly, Fiddler on the Roof was performed with senior Jonathan Decker as Music Director and sophomore Abby Weiser as Stage Manager. Shannon Anderson, Hannah Coslo, Olivia Haagen, Kate Leonori, and Candy Miller were given the opportunity to act.
The scenes, according to Brinser, “went very well.”
The productions “were recorded as live performances in one take – trying to simulate an actual performance.” Though the absence of an audience “was an adjustment.”
Mr. Brinser remained positive, though, adding,“I am so grateful we were able to find a way to provide some theatre opportunities for students in the midst of all of this chaos and crazy.”
The “chaos and crazy,” however, was dampened in thanks to the work of this year’s Drama seniors. Mr. Brinser wanted to thank Jacob Henry, Eddie Henry, Alyssa Packer, Achilles Brown, Kate Leonori, Ashtyn Harter, Shannon Anderson, Hailey Williams, and Olivia Haagen, of whom he called “very important to this process.”
“The arts are such an important part of these students’ lives, so I’m glad we were able to feed that part of their soul,” he said.