Plan A to B to C: Chicago canceled, Rent canceled, pre-show traditions stay alive

Although+the+show+has+been+canceled%2C+the+musical+participates+shared+many+happy+memories+together.

Submitted by Gavin Kimmel

Although the show has been canceled, the musical participates shared many happy memories together.

Today would have been the Upper School Spring Musical’s opening night for Chicago. But due to the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak, all Chicago performances have officially been canceled. The Huss Auditorium that should have been packed with a crowd of enthusiastic spectators, a stage filled with beautiful music, acting, and a chaotic backstage will all be empty and silent this time around.

Having worked so hard on the musical, the news of cancellation was heartbreaking for both US Theater Director Eric Severson and all the students who participated in preparation for the show.

Sophomore Jay Jones expressed their heavy heart, Jones said, “The cast is really disappointed because the show was really shaping up to be fantastic… I mean our first week or two of rehearsals we were at school until 6 p.m. already which usually doesn’t happen until later in the year so we were really working our collective booty off. It’s hard for everyone especially Ananya and Nina as the leads… I mean it’s rough but going forward we can only hope that whatever’s in store for next year is bigger and better than it was planned to be this year.”

Lead Ananya Narayan also shared her emotions about the cancelation. Narayan said, “ It’s heartbreaking. Everyone looks forward to their senior show. It’s not just about performing, it’s about the countless hours of rehearsal, all the friendship and laughter, and the piece of art that we get to create together. I love the SPA theater program because it’s given me a family to be a part of. We all love each other so much, and I really wish I got to perform with them one last time.”

The cast is really disappointed because the show was really shaping up to be fantastic…”

— sophomore Jay Jones

Knowing how hard the change has been on everyone in the community, Severson had initially planned for two online live streaming of the 2018 Rent musical performance along with a special behind the scenes rehearsal footage from Chicago as a makeshift option to keep the 2020 Spring Musical “alive”. The reason behind this as Severson said via email, “Your [participants] work, your talent, your commitment needs to be witnessed. So we will… I want to celebrate musical theater at SPA. Let’s keep our traditions alive.”

Unfortunately due to copyright issues, Severson was unable to carry out the live streaming. Thus moving onto Plan C, Severson said, “On Friday [which would have been our opening night], I will be driving around to each of the Seniors homes involved in the show to drop off a little opening night gift. There are also some things that I always bake for the cast and crew- gooey butter cake among them. I will personally deliver these to the seniors on Friday. Then at 6:30 p.m., anyone who is available and wants to, from the cast and crew, can join a Google Hangout where we will go through several pre-show traditions and rituals. I want to do as much as I can to help create some closure for all of us involved.”

It’s not just about performing, it’s about the countless hours of rehearsal, all the friendship and laughter, and the piece of art that we get to create together.”

— senior Ananya Narayan

In addition to the open night gifts and Good Hangout call, Severson has planned a special little surprise with the seniors. Severson said, “It won’t happen this weekend but I am working with a few of the seniors from the show to record a song of theirs from what would have been their senior musical to share with the community at some point and for them to have a keepsake of a beautiful performance from a show that, unfortunately, never saw the light of day.”

Having stayed positive and doing every possible thing within his reach for the program, Severson also couldn’t help but share his current emotions. He said, “These are unfortunate and weird times for us in the performing arts. It is incredibly sad to not have a live musical this year; however, the mourning for me and this cast and crew goes beyond not getting to perform the show, but it is also the camaraderie, the work, the rehearsals, the joys, the frustrations, the stresses, the successes, all of it builds to a fever pitch of energy at the end of Tech Week. I know I am mourning that right now and I know a lot of the cast and crew are as well.”

Please look forward to recordings that will be coming out soon.