The Show Must Go On


HB Performing Arts

The poster for Trap, the spring play last year. It was pre-recorded and live streamed on YouTube last May. “I think it’s the best we can do under these circumstances. Would I prefer doing in person shows? Yes. We can’t because, you know, we can’t,” says stage manager Jess Hu ‘21.

Caitlin Treacy, A&E Editor

Despite the many obstacles that the coronavirus pandemic has created, the theater program is still going strong, even though it’s being conducted over Zoom. Starting with the cancelation of The Music Man, the theater club, which attracts many students at HBHS to try their hand at everything from acting, making sets, stage managing, and running lights and sound, has run into new territory.

The Music Man, which was going to be last year’s spring musical, was forced to be canceled in the middle of tech week in March due to the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The disappointment was felt throughout the theater community. “I had to spend from December until March, three days every week working on the set, and that’s a lot of work. It was really tough to see it cancelled because now the set just sits in the auditorium,” says head stage manager of The Music Man Jess Hu ‘21.

Director/producer of the HBHS theater department and performing arts teacher Matthew  Barbosa understands the disappointment, but he’s proud of the work he and the theater club have done. “I am still to this day consistently wowed by the fact that despite the very understandable and valid disappointment, and frustration that I am sure all of us felt, students and teachers alike, that our cast was able to pull together and help each other through that grieving process. Because it really is grieving, you are, you know, mourning the loss of something that you have spent four months creating that no one will see. And coming to terms with that’s not why we do this. That’s not why we perform. Yes, it is a nice benefit, and communication is the crux of the art form, but we really do this for the process. And so shifting our perspective to that I think was beneficial, but disappointing, definitely,” said Barbosa. 

Even though The Music Man had to be canceled, Barbosa and his theater team still put on the spring play they were planning on doing, called Trap, remotely. Alex Meager, one of Barbosa’s helpers and a former HBHS student, rewrote an act of the play each week to make it fit online better. They also contacted Stephen Gregg, the play’s author, to ensure their edits were good with him. Actors would independently record their scenes and send them to tech advisor Dylan Silcox, who edited them together. They live-streamed the show on YouTube to viewers in thirteen states. “Everyone seemed to like it and appreciated what we did with what we had,” says actress Sofie Stoll 21’.

This year, theater is continuing remotely. The first play, which will open in early Dec., will be a radio show version of the Christmas movie It’s a Wonderful Life, and it has just started remote rehearsals. This year’s musical is being held remotely as well, and Barbosa and his team are in the final stages of picking what it will be.

Barbosa anticipates many problems with the upcoming virtual shows, such as technical issues and Zoom fatigue, but he’s working hard to make the process easy and fun for everyone. “I strive to ensure that our opportunities can stay as equitable and as frequent as they had in the past prior to the pandemic,” he said.

A big part of the theater shows is the people that see them, and virtual shows are a very different experience than what everyone is used to. However, the theater club is still counting on having an audience. “I think people are just going to be glad that we’re still doing shows, because shows are a big part of HB culture,” says Hu.

The theater club is determined to continue doing shows, even if they have to be virtual.