Hayden LaRocque Green
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the New Providence High School fall play has faced many changes to their usual production. This year’s production, Check, Please by Jonathan Rand, only features a couple of characters on stage at any given time, as each little scene is a blind date gone wrong.
The upcoming show has also adjusted in some behind-the-scenes ways as well, as it hopes to include some student writing and directing.
The future of the play is still not completely certain, as the guidelines are not completely definite. Mr. Duke, the director of the fall play, says, “We’re just proceeding with the premise that we want students to have the opportunity to be involved in the fall show, whatever shape that takes.”
Currently, everyone involved in the production is taking precautions to prevent the spread of COVID. They are wearing masks for the entirety of rehearsal, and always maintaining distance between each other. The cast is working in the moment, and trying their best in practice from day to day. Not only has rehearsal been altered due to the pandemic, but the entire script has been modified to fit the safety requirements.
“The choice of material we’re coming up with is an eye towards keeping people safe, so we’re trying to do a series of small vignettes, or scenes, that have a couple people who can still remain distant on stage. Instead of having a large group, it’s gonna be a relatively small cast doing a series of separate scenes,” Duke says.
This is a great accommodation to the challenges of the pandemic, and is a large difference from past productions. Priscilla Senger, a junior at NPHS, is the stage manager of the fall play, and has worked on past productions at the school, such as Little Shop of Horrors and Clue on Stage. She is trying to work with the many differences this production will have, and how to plan for it.
“Last year we had a big ensemble cast with multiple people on stage at a time closely interacting with each other, but that really isn’t possible this year, which is a bummer, and something we’ve planned around with the new script,” Senger says.
Furthermore, the fall play is now able to incorporate more student work to it, which is another opportunity for the cast.
Duke tells us, “We’re using a script, but we’re also having students add to that and expand on some of the characters that are already written in the script as it is, which is a new opportunity.”
Cast members are writing and performing original scenes that address current events, which has never been done before at NPHS. This is really exciting for the cast members, and shows how the Company has been able to come up with creative ways to make the most of the production.
Because of the regulations set by the District, the start of the play has been pushed back. While performances are traditionally held before Thanksgiving, Duke is now expecting them to take place in early December, specifically from the 6th-8th. This delay gives the cast and crew more time to rehearse and come up with ideas, as well as making sure the administration has set in place guidelines for the performances.
Right now, Duke is hoping for the performance to include some live elements, but he says, “We’re proceeding knowing that it may just be a virtual performance that we end up doing, as we may not be able to have a real audience here.”
Although some aspects of the play are still up in the air, the cast and crew is still very optimistic about it, and hope for the best of the show. Everyone is working hard, and the team has been able to rise beyond the limitations of the pandemic.
Sam Kogan, a senior who has participated in High School musicals, is excited for Check, Please, his first and last fall play. He says, “I’m really happy we get to do something, and that we have a show. I also think writing the show is a new experience for me to try, and I’d encourage everyone to come check out the show!”