LIBERTY — Coronavirus imposing several restrictions on gathering and how students are interacting with each other has left Liberty High School with a different musical production from what was originally slated.
“We were going to do ‘Les Misérables’,” said stage manager Olivia Nebel, 18. “Coronavirus made that too difficult so we came up with the idea of a musical showcase.”
The Liberty High School Musical Showcase will be streamed virtually on the LPS Fine Arts YouTube channel beginning at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22. Streaming instructions for ticket holders can be found online at lps53.org/performances.
Given the opportunity to audition for 25 songs, Nebel said students were then cast and many students are appearing in more than one number.
“What’s nice is the students get to sing songs they wouldn’t have gotten the chance to,” Nebel added. “So things from ‘Hamilton’ and ‘Wicked’ that haven’t been released to the public.”
To keep things on the up-and-up, Nebel said students have alternative versions of the songs, rather than their traditional representation.
“I’m in multiple numbers but my song is ‘Mr. Cellophane’ (from the musical ‘Chicago’),” Sal Bonadonna, 18, said.
“My interpretation is that it’s a guy who moved to New York to pursue a life on Broadway,” Bonadonna said, explaining that his character finds himself in a pool of talent in New York. “At this point in time he is actually homeless and living in a box and you get to see a day in my life and how basically no one sees me.”
Having this production and being able to continue with theater is the real treat, Bonadonna said. Although the cast and crew were provided limited time, and even limited resources working with a crew less than half its regular size, Bonadonna said it’s worth it to do what he and so many of his classmates love.
“Theater has helped me learn to be more confident in myself,” Charlotte Brookins, 17, said. “That is something I really struggled with before and I have learned a lot about the other people around me and I’ve made a lot of good friends.”
Nebel said the biggest challenge this year as stage manager has been making sure students are wearing their masks and keeping an appropriate distance apart.
“My favorite part has always been the people I get to work with,” Nebel added. “They are what make it worth it, make all the stress that comes with all of this so worth it. Just when we were doing our energy warm-ups beforehand, that is when I realized that was something I missed and didn’t realize I missed.”
Having participated in about 17 productions, Nebel said something she’s learned doing theater is all the work that goes in behind the scenes that really bring a show together and that it has actually been a bubble popping experience for her.
“It just broke the bubble and I can’t watch a show the same,” Nebel said. “I’ll go to the respiratory downtown and I’ll just be like, ‘I know how they did that, they did that with a fog machine and they did that with a spark gun.’”
Although it is a neat bubble to have broken, Nebel said, she will never view a show the same again.
One thing each of the students have in common is a desire to spread theater and encourage others to join the fun.
“Don’t be afraid to speak up,” Bonadonna said. “Before I did theater, this goes back to about sixth grade, I was kind of quiet, and then I started doing theater and learned how to speak up and say what is on my mind.”
He said speaking your mind can be a mixed bag of good and bad experiences but at the end of the day, theater has helped mold him into who he is today.
“Don’t let fear get in the way of doing what you want to do,” Brookins added. “It might be scary but it is so worth it.”