Baylor Magazine Article

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In the Time of...May
Eddie Davis

Sometimes the Show Does Not Go On

by Kristopher Kennedy '19

Spring at Baylor, and in Roddy Theater specifically, typically has audience members settling into their seats, the stage before them suddenly coming to life with student actors singing and dancing under lights and in costumes, and a live orchestra playing. This year, the Roddy stage sported a lonesome set: upon it, no actors; before it, an audience of empty seats.

On March 13, when Baylor was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the world of the school stood still. Suddenly, the stir of the spring semester came to an abrupt halt, and many students and faculty members wondered whether they would find themselves on campus again before the 2019-20 school year came to a close.

Typically, at the center of springtime hubbub on Baylor’s campus are the Baylor Players, whose spring musical is traditionally the largest theatrical draw of the school year. This spring, the Players were preparing the 2020 musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, directed by Beth Gumnick.

Gumnick, who has worked in the Baylor theater department for over two decades and directed the spring musicals since 2016, says the Players were “a month into a two and a half month process” when it was announced that Baylor would make the transition
to remote learning.

The Players were slated to stage Joseph in Roddy from April 29 through May 3, a stretch referred to as “play week.” To commemorate what would have been play week for the 2020 musical, Gumnick arranged for play t-shirts, a finished program, and letters from Baylor Player alums, to be sent to members of the cast and crew. “I reached out to other alums and I got between 15 and 20 letters, and I passed them along,” said Gumnick. “It was really sweet; it was the reminder that...we are the members of a huge community, and to have the alums send these things to remind the current Players of their connection to their community was a really, really cool thing...to write something from their hearts, it says a lot.”

On May 4, the day that traditionally marks the end of each spring show with as trike of the set and a final cast meeting, Gumnick met with the Players over Zoom and told them, “‘How committed you were and how invested you were...was a testament to the value of process, because we were only a month in, and you were so into it, and you had already committed to each other and to the show so fully, a month in.’”

For Gumnick, the emphasis is not on what was lost, but what was gained in creating this show, even if there wasn’t a product at the end. “The lesson I hope that carries for them is that value of the experience of process, the creative process; I hope that sticks with them. I’m sure what sticks with them is the relationships that develop and the sense of ensemble and family that develops when you create together. I know that’s there.”


COVID-19 May Have Altered Historic Baylor Sports Streaks

by Eddie Davis

When the COVID-19 pandemic caused the closing of the Baylor campus in March, it also halted the historic quests of three Baylor teams that play in the spring season.

The Baylor girls’ tennis team would have been going for a tenth straight state championship at the annual Spring Fling in Murfreesboro.

Coach Kelli Smith ’95 and her Red Raider softball team had sights set on a sixth consecutive state championship, an eighth in the last nine years.

The talent-laden Baylor baseball team had national competition on the 2020 schedule as they prepared for a run at a third straight state crown.

It could have been a fifth state title for Baylor senior softball player Macy Ann McKnight. “Honestly, it's been heartbreaking to lose our season. I was still doing drills in my backyard right up until the day they told us our season was canceled,” McKnight told David Paschall ’85 of the Chattanooga Times Free Press in a May 20 article. “Coach Smith and I have had a special relationship ever since we first met because we both love the game so much. I’m happy with what we accomplished in my first four years, but I really wanted to get to finish my career on the field, trying to win another championship with my teammates. That’s what I'll always feel like I missed out on as a senior — those relationships with my teammates and Coach Smith.”

Gehrig Ebel, a senior on the Baylor baseball team, lays it right on the line but sees positives coming out of the situation. “It stinks, plain and simple. I miss baseball, and I miss seeing my teammates every day. Everyone was heartbroken and sad at first, but the longer this quarantine has gone on, the stronger we have become as individuals.”

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