It was less Shakespeare in the Park and more Disney in the Parking Lot: Thanks to creative thinking, resilient students, dedicated staff and families, and a lot of fervent prayer, the St. Patrick School Players found a safe and entertaining way to (finally!) perform the school musical, “Frozen, Jr.” outdoors, in SUMMER, and in the middle of a global pandemic.
Working with the Livingston County Health Department, school leaders devised a plan to move the winter-themed production, which was originally scheduled to be performed in a traditional theater setting in May, to the parking lot of the St. Patrick Parish Life Center. With the help of a small army of volunteers, the stage, sound system, and scenery were all transported outdoors, and chairs set up in rows 6 feet apart, to allow for adequate physical distancing.
For director Kathleen Moore, the old saying “The show must go on” has never rung so true.
“This cast and crew has been rehearsing since last September, and they’ve had every possible hurdle thrown in their path. I was determined that if we could find ANY way to safely perform this show, we would make it happen,” she said.
In the era of COVID-19, that meant making plenty of changes and taking many precautions to ensure the safety of the cast, crew, their families, and all attendees. The choreography and blocking was modified so that performers had as much distance as possible between them, and the entire cast wore protective plastic face shields as part of their costumes. They sanitized their hands between scenes, and many of the performers wore gloves. The size of the audience was strictly limited, with all attendees required to wear masks and use hand sanitizer before sitting down. Families were allowed to sit together, with no mixing of households or congregating of friends. There was no intermission or concession sales, so as to limit interactions.
But those strict safety measures did nothing to dampen the spirits of the cast or the audience. And despite the 85-degree heat, Olaf the summer-loving snowman did NOT melt! The show closed to raucous applause at all five performances. While it wasn’t the experience they expected, there’s no doubt the cast, crew, and all those who attended the “pandemic performances” will never forget this unique adventure.
“I couldn’t be more proud of these students and the resilience they’ve demonstrated,” Moore said. “They’ve shown us all what it means to persevere, and they’ve brought some much needed joy into a difficult time in many people’s lives. It’s been a blessing to be part of this unforgettable experience.”
The show featured a cast of 23 and a crew of nine
students who were 7th and 8th graders at St. Patrick School during the 2019-20 school year, as well as a few alumni who returned to volunteer with the production.