Players Zoom, video-chat for upcoming radio productions

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Photo contributed by Camille Foisie ’21

Players practice in booths in the black box theater to maintain social distancing. Pictured are Chloe Manna ’22 and Sebastian Gikas ’23.

Julia Herlyn ’23, Staff Writer

After weeks of tireless work, rehearsals and excitement, the Staples Players’ production of Seussical was cancelled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, over seven months later, the Players are back to work and are practicing for their first productions since Mamma Mia, which took place last November: a series of radio shows premiering on Oct. 25, Nov. 8 and Nov. 22.

The Players were forced to put away their scripts and costumes on March 11, the last day of in-person school- which was only four days before their production of Seussical premiered.

“Everyone was pretty upset when we found out that it was going to be cancelled because we had worked so hard and put so much work into it,” Madelyn Spera ’23, Staples Player and actor in Seussical, said. “Obviously, we understood that for safety reasons it couldn’t happen, but we were still hoping we could put it on in the future.”

Upon returning to Staples in the fall, the Players had to decide what their next show would look like in a COVID-19 world. Ultimately, through virtual meetings that took place during the summer, Players officers concluded that they would perform three radio shows instead of their normal fall production: “The Wizard of Oz,” “Pride and Prejudice” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” 

Players auditioned for radio shows by submitting audio recordings and were then called back for specific roles. They repeated this process until the directors cast actors to parts; some actors are in one show, while others are in all three. 

In total, there are over 50 Players cast in shows and 20 students participating as technicians, who work with sound effects during the shows. All rehearsals are conducted over Zoom, excluding those during the final week before the show when lead actors perform in booths to maintain social distancing in the black box theater.

Staples Players had to adapt to COVID-19 protocols for their performances. In the coming month, they will be performing three radio shows that can be viewed online for free. (Photo contributed by Camille Foisie ’21)

“Radio Theater is actually a perfect medium to work on during this time of social distancing because we are not sacrificing anything,” David Roth, theater teacher and Players director, said. “We are able to completely produce the shows the way they are intended to be produced- LIVE over the radio. The [Players] get to perform together at the same time and experience the same rush of sharing a ‘stage’ with their fellow performers and performing live for an audience.”

And even though their final performances at Staples have had to adapt to COVID-19, senior Players are especially enthusiastic about the upcoming radio shows.

“Being a senior [Player] this year is actually a very exciting opportunity!” Camille Foisie ’21 said. “There is a lot of creativity that comes from the senior managers of our technical crew, officers, adult staff, etc., in order to make Players thrive in a mostly virtual environment … We [seniors] found radio productions were the closest feeling and experience that we once had during our live productions.”

There is a lot of creativity that comes from the senior managers of our technical crew, officers, adult staff, etc., in order to make Players thrive in a mostly virtual environment … We [seniors] found radio productions were the closest feeling and experience that we once had during our live productions.”

— Camille Foisie ’21

Despite the difficulties that COVID-19 poses to the Players, they are still full of spirit and excited to perform for audiences in the coming weeks. For the foreseeable future, the Players are considering to stage another radio show in December and possibly more in 2021. Regardless, their passion for the stage shines through–whether they’re on Zoom or in the Staples auditorium.

“Of course we would love to be doing a live performance in the auditorium with a full audience but we know it’s going to be a while until that is a possibility,” Roth said. “For now, we are just thrilled to be doing what we love–performing live for an audience!”

To tune in (for free), visit WWPT 90.3 FM or via live stream on www.wpptfm.org. “The Wizard of Oz” is scheduled for Oct. 25 at six p.m. EST, “Pride and Prejudice” is scheduled for Nov. 8 at six p.m. EST and “It’s a Wonderful Life” is scheduled for Nov. 22 at six p.m. EST.