Schoolhouse Rock! Theatre during a Pandemic


Ethan Gray, Staff Writer

With threats of World War, deadly hornets, and mass wildfires, 2020 was destined to be a year remembered by everyone who lived through it. However, the Covid-19 virus is what is going to put 2020 in the history books that our kids will read in class. Quarantine has affected everyone in the world, whether through work, education or entertainment.

Although this year may have been terrible, it has reminded us that people and communities are strong together, and with that strength we can overcome and adapt to any challenge that faces us. Although the theatre community can seem rag-tag and heterogeneous, it embodies the spirit of overcoming and adapting to challenges because they all believe that “the show must go on”.  The cast of Victor Junior High School’s Schoolhouse Rock, streaming the weekend of the 18th, definitely has that spirit.

The Victor Theatre community is robust and energetic. Subsequently, Victor’s theatre has had to adapt to the pandemic. In November of 2020, Victor Senior High put on a socially distanced play, and all of the rehearsals were hosted over google meet. The high school decided to do a live radio play where the cast were all spread out on stage so that there was no risk of spreading the virus, while also entertaining the audience. 

However, the recent happenings in Victor’s theatre community is the Musical of Schoolhouse Rock being put on by the Victor Junior High. They picked Schoolhouse Rock because it had a small enough cast that rehearsals could take place in person while obeying the guidelines of six feet of distance for speaking, and twelve feet for singing. 

According to the director, Mrs. Birkemeier, “We need a show that we could create a whole bunch of small ensembles so that we could still offer a lot of roles to a lot of kids, but be able to rehearse the songs/scenes and dances separately”.

These changes allow safe distance to be maintained so cast will stay safe. However, picking the perfect musical may never clear up all challenges there are to face this year.

 The first step in performing a musical is casting the show. On an average year, casting a show would be very difficult for the directors, because the show will turn out dramatically different for every decision. But, this year, the directors had to face the challenge of casting the show entirely virtually. 

For the vocal and acting auditions, the directors used a program (called flipgrid) to submit their performances. The directors then had fun watching the auditions while spread out in a room. The auditions for the dance part were held over Zoom, making it easy to see each actor dance. The only major problem during auditions were glitches due to laggy wifi during the dance auditions.

But casting is just the first major step in a musical. To get information about other challenges that the cast faced, I reached out to Megan Calder, who plays Dori, one of the lead characters. She claimed that the biggest challenge she faced was struggling to communicate with the rest of her cast mates.

According to Megan, the communication issues she faced were because they had to “communicate through the masks and being so far away from each other”.

Student director Eva O’Neil said very similar things about challenges with communication. She said that it was difficult to communicate with the cast as a whole because the smaller cast and small ensembles. 

However, both Megan and Eva were both very proud of the amount of communication that the cast was able to have. They both brought up the perseverance of their peers and how it allowed them to overcome the issues at hand.

Schoolhouse Rock is being Live streamed on the weekend of December 18th. To get tickets you have to look under the arts tab on the Victor Senior High School website. There are multiple camera angles, which will make the show come out clearer and closer than if you were actually there.

The show is about a teacher, scared to have her first day of teaching. When she realizes that the old educational cartoons that she used to watch are still running, she watches them. Her old favorite characters encourage her and give her the confidence to go teach. Some of the songs to keep an ear out for are “Circulation” or “Elbow Room.” By the end of the show, the teacher has the confidence to go teach her class.

A huge thank you goes out to Mrs. Birkemeier, Eva O’Neil, and Megan Calder. I am very excited to watch the show and see some old friends doing what they do best.