The news devastated cast members. They broke down into fervent tears and outcries of anguish and sheer pain from hearing the heart wrenching news on March 13 that school would be closed due to COVID’19.
All hopes and dreams of putting on one of the best performances of Joseph and His Technicolor Coat were now obliterated by the notorious coronavirus. “Why is everyone crying?” a fellow cast member Connie Ni ‘22 asked another cast member in the musical. It makes sense why everyone was so upset at the possibility (which now looks like a reality) of the iconic spring play ceasing to exist this year. It scared them, as they had been working for countless hours after school to learn the music, dance steps, and lines perfectly crafted for each character.
But the news of school closing down has not stopped the drama students from rehearsing and learning every detail of the play to prepare for the prospect of going back to school and putting together a full show in a week. Some students created an iMessage group chat, named Joseph’s Brothers and their Wives, to share ideas and song covers to each member of the musical in hopes to teach each other the music and stay updated on possible changes to the musical.
Beth Gumnick, drama instructor and the play's director, has kept in contact with the cast, lifting their spirits and sharing inspiring stories. Gumnick recorded choreography videos showcasing the dance numbers, so cast members can practice their dances. These are located on the Spring Musical Group on myBaylor for all cast members to access.
The iMessage group chat constantly has members sharing videos of them covering songs, so the rest of the cast can follow along and practice together. “To prepare, I’ve been practicing my parts with the RMS mix (a music learning software) of course, but I’ve also been messing around with guitar versions of the songs, just for fun,” said cast member Patrick Russell, who plays Joseph.
The group also has nightly group FaceTime calls not only to rehearse scenes and songs, but to simply catch up with one another. There has been talk of possibly producing a virtual play if the cast cannot perform in front of a full theater, given that school reconvenes, but Gumnick and her team are still discussing the logistics of that plan. “It’s really hard to be motivated without the excitement of friends and rehearsals, but [Mrs. Gumnick] told us that “the show must go on,” said Kara Anne Smith ‘22, who plays one of the narrators.
Many cast members, like Russell and Smith, are more disappointed with the lost time spent with the rest of the cast, seniors, and Tom Schow, who will be retiring this year and will be conducting the band and orchestra for his final spring musical. "We were devastated when we heard the news. It felt like we were being robbed of not only important time we could have used to practice, but the opportunity to become closer with each other. We’ll be able to put in the work to make sure the production goes on but we won’t get that time together back and that’s the hardest part about all of this,” explained Smith,
The annual spring musical holds a certain level of importance in numerous students' lives--the anticipation for the next one often starts from the minute the previous musical ends-- so it makes sense that school’s cancellation devastated many. I met some of my closest friends in last year's musical, Once Upon A Mattress, because a cohesive musical takes building trust and forming close bonds with the fellow cast members. Russell expressed similar sentiments "We have such a special group and even though we are on pins and needles about the future of the show, we still have each other.”
Even though this experience has been trying and chaotic for many, the musical will prevail, whether virtually, live, or in our hearts. We’re drama kids, after all.