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How to Stage an Epic Musical During a Pandemic

Academics
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Beginning next week, the Senior School Theatre Department is excited to be able to share their spring musical with the students, staff, and families of GNS. Due to the current COVID-19 restrictions, they couldn’t welcome a live audience into Denford Hall, but they are doing the next best thing. Through the wonders of technology and some creative staging, they will stream Monty Python’s Spamalot—Socially Distanced version for Plagues and Pandemics! directly to your chosen device. 

The musical comedy follows the tale of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table as they embark on their epic quest to find the Holy Grail. 

“We are really lucky to be able to do a production,” said Dana Mavrow ’21, Lady of the Lake. “I feel really lucky, and it’s my grad year so if we didn’t have this opportunity we really wouldn’t have anything to show for our final year of theatre.”

Preparing the play this year brought new challenges, as there are many restrictions they have to follow. 

“It’s been different this year with the whole pandemic,” said Taylor Macdonald ’24, Ensemble, Laker Girl and Frenchie. “Whether that’s learning to navigate with masks and physically distancing. Or whether that’s dance and blocking or vocal listening with the restrictions of the mask.”

Corin Wallace ’21is Head of Sound for the musical and says that working on this production has allowed him the opportunity to learn some different skills in the booth.

“For tech, we are used to catering for an audience so there are a bunch of new nuances that we have to consider for this year. Like how people are going to hear through the livestream? Everyone has to be mic’d. How we are going to make it visible for everyone with the filming and cameras? This is unique from other years,” said Corin.

 

Many of the Grade 9 students this year are excited they can be part of a live production this year. When the school closed last March, the Middle School was in the midst of preparing to present Peter and the Starcatcher.  Because the group had invested so much time into their roles, the Director, Mrs. Kate Pagett, had them produce an audio version. But the students really missed performing on stage.

“Last year we didn’t have too much of a play because it just started, and we didn’t have much time to plan it out,” said Theo Marill ’24, Killer Rabbit and Frenchie. “We had already rehearsed thinking of doing it in person, and when we had to cancel we did an audio version, but it wasn’t as much of a performance.”

It’s only been a couple of years since she graduated, but Gaby Girad ’19 was excited to come back to GNS and help with this year’s production. Currently, Gaby is attending Dalhousie University remotely where she is studying acting and cinema, and media studies. For Spamalot, she has taken on the role of Head of Livestream, where she works with the cameras and directs what the audience will see. 

“My time at GNS, the bright side was always theatre no matter what was happening in my life or school,” she said. “It’s the biggest, most fun release from academic stress and especially Grade 12 when I was applying to university and preparing for exams, the musical especially was a fun time. You have Grade 9 to 12 all together, and you are goofing around on stage. I wanted to get back to that.” 

“Even in dark times, it’s important to find ways to laugh and be silly,” said the Director, Ms. Adrienne Smook. “I know for all of us, the rehearsal process has been a lovely outlet and opportunity to be creative, silly, funny and to celebrate that we are allowed to be in the same room, doing theatre, having fun. We hope that energy can transport to people’s living rooms and they will feel a part of that silliness and fun even when times are tough.”

The production will be live-streamed at 7 p.m. on March 3, 4 and 5, and at 2:00 p.m. on March 6. Tickets are $15.00 for a Single Viewer and $40.00 for a Family Bubble and can be purchased online at https://www.booktixlive.ca/portal/GNS