Two performances were held-- one masked for a small, distanced audience, and the other unmasked without an audience in order to film a video for families. Photos below reflect both performances.
Chances are, if you passed by the Salem Theatre last Thursday or Friday, you would have had no inclination that magic was happening inside...but let us assure you that, indeed, there was. While there may not have been a large crowd of ticket holders, concessions being sold by the front door and people trying to park, what we did have inside was a group of hardworking students determined to put on a show. And did they ever.
The cast and crew of this year’s production, Susan Nanus and Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth, worked since January to make the show a success. Of course, this year was a bit different. For starters, our students had to figure out how to rehearse a play safely in spite of the pandemic. This meant wearing masks and observing physical distancing guidelines at all times. But this did not deter them from flexing their acting muscles and learning new skills in the process. The students learned vocal and diction techniques, completed team-building exercises, handmade their scenery and painted props pieces and, of course, memorized countless lines and blocking. Most importantly, they learned that putting on a play is a true team effort.
They did all of this knowing that they would not have a full audience of their friends and families. Instead, they would have to perform for a film crew so that their families could see their hard work at a later date. They also knew that they would be performing while masked. And still, in spite of what could be seen as obstacles, they brought 100% effort to everything they did. This cast and crew not only demonstrated their amazing performance skills; they demonstrated exemplary citizenship every step of the way. They helped each other without being asked, and they offered support to one another without prompting. They exercised patience and positivity even after long days of wearing masks in the classroom and before heading to other extra-curricular activities. Above all, they were gracious for the experience and opportunity to take part in a live theater production-- something that many have not had the privilege to do in a very long time.
And that is why there was magic happening in the Salem Theatre last Friday: a small “studio” audience of physically distanced and masked 8th graders, as well as a handful of faculty and staff, were able to witness these students demonstrating true artistry and teamwork on stage. They gave a phenomenal performance, and there was not a single person in the room who did not leave grinning from ear to ear beneath their masks. At the end, the 8th graders gave a bouquet of flowers to each member of the cast and crew. For all of the students involved, it was a heartwarming conclusion to a grand adventure.
Looking back on all that they’ve accomplished, we realize that we are beyond lucky to have been a part of it. We are eagerly awaiting the day that we get to share their work with our community. It is applause-worthy not only for their performance on stage, but for their performance behind the scenes as well.
Bravo on spectacular production, cast and crew of The Phantom Tollbooth! We hope you are as proud of yourselves as we are of all of you!
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