On Friday, March 13th, the last day that RHS was open before the state-mandated shutdown, the New Players Company had their full-day in-school rehearsal for this season’s musical, The Addams Family. The musical was scheduled to open the following weekend, and have performances from March 19 to 22. Due to the shutdown, the show was consequently canceled, and it is unknown if it will ever be rescheduled for a future date. Members of the RHS New Players had put in months of work and time into a show that will now most likely never happen due to COVID-19.
The shutdown was certainly shocking for everyone involved in the company and seemed to hit at the worst possible time. It is hard for actors to manage with the shutdown, since what they enjoy the most is performing for an in-person audience, which is currently impossible. Annie McCarthy, a Junior at RHS who would have played Morticia in The Addams Family, commented on her feelings when she realized that the musical was indefinitely cancelled: “I was very sad because I thought that the show was going to be very entertaining for audiences and it’s always so rewarding to perform after rehearsing for so long.” The rehearsal period for The Addams Family started all the way back in January. RHS Newplayers always spend so much time and effort on their productions, especially the musicals. The 50 member cast of The Addams Family spent hours learning dances and blocking, while crew members made costumes, built the set, and designed the lighting. With rehearsals often running until 9 or 10 PM on weeknights, the pay off for all this work is being able to show an audience their finished product. Having to cope with losing all of this has been hard for every RHS Newplayer.
To help cope with an inability to perform during quarantine, RHS Newplayers have tried to practice and hone their skills at home. For example, this is how Aidan Holt, a Sophomore and Mal Beineke in The Addams Family, has coped with the shutdown: “I’ve dealt with it by still singing, listening to, and making music during my free time and also by keeping an eye on the various different virtual performances that musicians and artists are putting forward.” Ally Ebert, a Senior and Choreographer/Dance Captain in The Addams Family, has also found ways to stay involved in theater at home: “I am a part of the Acabellas at school and we have had some Zoom rehearsals during quarantine which is a great way to connect with my friends and work on our music. My dance studio has also done some Zoom dance classes which is kind of bittersweet.” Despite the unfortunate circumstances, Newplayers have found ways to keep their routines and combat the boredom of being stuck at home.
RHS Newplayers is very much a family, and one of the hardest things about the shutdown is the inability to share their mutual love for art and performance with other members. Ally Ebert describes what she most particularly misses most about Newplayers: “I really miss being with all of my friends and doing what we love most. The Little Theatre has become a second home to us throughout the years and I miss just being there!” These feelings are also shared by Aidan Holt: “For me, I mainly miss all of my friends who are also involved in Newplayers. As a sophomore, this year was supposed to get me ready for being an upperclassman, so I’m disappointed that I won’t be as experienced going into next year. Also, 10th grade is a great year to improve your acting and musical abilities because you tend to get bigger and better roles than when you’re a freshman, so it sucks that we won’t have the ability to develop as much as we could have.” Matt Taddei, a Junior and Lurch in The Addams Family, remarks about what he misses most: “The one thing that I miss about new players is hands down the costume room.” The Newplayer community is full of very social people who thrive off of being together. Losing that aspect was super hard to deal with. Newplayers often Zoom or FaceTime with each other, and everyone has made an effort to stay in touch. The Company is a home away from home, and many members of the company are itching to be back in the Little Theatre.
RHS Newplayer seniors have lost a lot this year, and losing the musical and spring performances are just two more added onto a long list of losses for the class of 2020. New Players’ annual senior ceremony, in which senior Newplayers are recognized and rewarded for their dedication to the company, is still scheduled to happen, even if it has to happen virtually. The company is making sure that the seniors will still be able to partake in this tradition.
Like Matt Taddei said, “It is definitely hard to cope without rehearsal, I can probably speak for all of us when I say that these rehearsals keep us sane, even though we go through so much.” However, Newplayers are trying their best to cope by staying in touch, continuing to take part in musical activities at home, and staying optimistic that things will eventually return to normal.
Graphic: Logan Richman