WORKING through a Pandemic: Producing a Musical during COVID

WORKING+through+a+Pandemic%3A+Producing+a+Musical+during+COVID

Rachel Lief, Staff Reporter, Junior

For students, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected classes, athletics, clubs, and community service opportunities. And for those who live by the mantra “the show must go on,” even they have been affected. Last year, just one week before opening night of the spring musical, Sock ‘n’ Buskin, the school’s drama club, found themselves facing closing notices rather than an opening night. Slated to perform the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying just seven days after nationwide lockdowns began, the show was cancelled as a result of COVID-19. However, in true show biz spirit, SnB was determined not to let the stage lights remain dim for long. Though Broadway has been shut down, Sock ‘n’ Buskin quickly adapted to find ways to keep theatre in Pelham going. They successfully produced a ZOOM version of The Diary of Anne Frank in December of 2020 and are currently working on their spring musical, a filmed version of the musical Working which will be live-streamed for four performances.

Working, which “opens” for a four performance run of virtual performances on Thursday, April 29, significantly differs from Sock ‘n’ Buskin’s prior shows. Though the show boasts a cast of forty actors,  Working was filmed with small, in-person groups, following CDC guidelines and protocols. Filming took place at several different locations, often outdoors in open-air spaces. The audio for vocals was recorded individually by actors at their homes, with each recording then meticulously mixed and aligned.

Sock ‘n’ Buskin advisor Mr. Beck, who co-directed the piece, said, “This is more like filming a movie musical as opposed to staging a musical in a theatre. Many technical elements that Mr. Schleifer and I never had used before — like cinematography, editing, and location scouting — became essential in completing the project. Luckily, we were able to take some online seminars from experts on Sundays to prepare.”

A massive amount of effort was put in behind the scenes. Between determining the logistics of filming and gathering members of the cast to film, the production of Working has been arduous throughout.

Sock ‘n’ Buskin advisor  and co-director Mr. Schleifer said, “Adhering to strict COVID protocols, all vocals were taught virtually by Musical Director Kevin Smith through Google Meet rehearsals. The songs were then submitted by each individual student, and George Croom, our music producer, mixed the voices together with a five piece orchestra who also never met! Most of the scenes had no more than five or six actors at a time, and the large musical numbers were filmed outside, with masks on, and with social distancing.”

Though the nature of this production is fairly new to both the cast and crew, the amount of effort and dedication that was applied throughout the production was immense. Despite the challenges encountered by the individuals involved in the production, the result will be a finished product unlike any that the Pelham audiences have seen.

To reserve tickets for the show, please go to https://www.showtix4u.com/event-details/50540