WHSTE’S New York: Theatre amidst the pandemic

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Credit: Nandhana Nair

WHS theatre preforms Leonard Bernstein’s New York outside on May 21, May 22 and May 23. “I don’t prefer to perform outside,” Sophomore Jane Gargano said. “It was a good experience, but the theater is much better equipped for shows.”

Nandhana Nair and Jessie Feist

Story updated June 17, 2021.

Despite Covid-19, the WHS Theatre Ensemble (WHSTE) was still able to perform their spring musical, ‘Leonard Bernstein’s New York.’ The performances took place outside in the courtyard from May 20 to May 23.

The original spring musical chosen for this school year was the “Spongebob the Musical.” However, because of COVID-19, director Aiden O’Hara switched the play to ‘Leonards Bernstein’s New York’. The musical uses songs from Leonard Berstein, an American composer, who wrote the music for “Westside Story”.

“We put our own storyline to it and created our own characters and threw in our own lines,” O’Hara said. “[The musical] is like a 70-minute deep-dive into these characters of 1930’s New York.”

Sophomore Jane Gargano participated in the musical this year and played Maria, an artist. Gargano was also in several group numbers and had a solo in the song “My House”. Gargano was glad she was still able to participate in the play during COVID-19.

“I love being on stage and showing what I have worked on,” Gargano said.

Despite COVID-19, Gargano felt safe attending rehearsals and participating in the musical. She also had a lot of friends who were a part of the musical, which made her more comfortable.

“The teachers involved were super careful and did a really good job with COVID-19 restrictions,” Gargano said.

Since this year was unlike the rest, rehearsals were run differently due to COVID-19 safety restrictions. Masks were mandatory during rehearsals and when someone sang, they had to try to be at least 10 feet away from the rest of the cast and when cast members were speaking, they had to be 6 feet apart.

“It’s like an interesting puzzle,” O’Hara said. “When you get within 10 feet when you are singing, someone has to pause.”

Similar to O’Hara, Gargano found singing with masks to be challenging.

“It was really difficult to project and hear others with them on, but we managed,” Gargano said.

Another challenge was the weather since the rehearsals and performances were outside. The theater had to adapt to any weather conditions like rain and wind.

“With the lights and sound outside anytime it rains, we have to tarp everything and bring it in,” O’Hara said. “It is a very laborious process.”

Gargano thought that the performance was fun, although nerve-racking since Gargano hadn’t performed in front of so many people in such a long time. Overall, Gargano had a good experience performing and was glad to get back into theatre.

“My favorite [of the performance] was singing ‘Some Other Time,'” Gargano said. “[It] was a group number because it had really cool harmonies.”

Sophomore Amelie Martin attended the show on May 21 with her friends.

“[The musical] wonderfully showcased the nuances of true New York life,” Martin said. “It was nice being in the audience, the weather was nice and I could see [the stage].”

Martin had many friends who performed in the play. She was glad she was still able to watch them despite today’s COVID-19 circumstances.

“My favorite parts were [seniors] Jack McCahan’s solo and Katherine Deane’s stellar solo,” Martin said. “[I also enjoyed] the closing ensemble number because it tied the story together so nicely.”