At last, “It’s Some Kind of Musical” as the theater program takes the stage

Theatre department produces musical in just three weeks

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Three weeks. 

That’s how long the theatre department had to produce this year’s musical. In three weeks time, songs and choreography had to be memorized, sets had to be designed and constructed, costumes had to be made, and lighting and audio timings had to be organized. And the theatre program did just that. 

The theatre department performed “Live From Novi: It’s Some Kind of Musical” from April 29th – May 1st. Rather than a full musical performance, it featured songs from 12 Broadway shows. The songs were all strung together and connected to the song “A Musical” from the Broadway show “Something Rotten,” a favorite of theatre director Heather McKaig. All the shows performed in the school production were mentioned in the song.

Actress, costume head, and president of Drama Club, Senior Saamanthy Rajenthiran has been a part of theatre since seventh grade. She started performing in front of an audience last year.

She found the week leading up to the show to be stressful, but had faith in the team to produce a show in such a short amount of time. 

“Our fall play also [did not have] a lot of time, and we were able to do that and it was a full show, so I figured if we could do that, we can do this too,” Rajenthiran said.

The weeks before the musical saw rehearsals every day, going from right after school to around 4:30 p.m. Show week saw dress rehearsals, from five to six hours long. For Rajenthiran, the way to deal with time pressure was about overcoming stress and making sure time was well spent ensuring the live performance went smoothly. 

“Usually before a show, I get a little in my head. I’m like ‘Oh, my gosh, this is kind of scary blah blah blah.’ But then, I always think about how much rehearsal time we put into it. And we’re usually really prepared going into the show,” Rajenthiran said. “So getting out of that headspace can take a little bit. But overall, I’m pretty smooth sailing.”

Cut to closing night of “Live from Novi.” All was going smoothly, until Rajenthiran stepped onto the stage to perform “There’s a Fine Fine Line” from the musical “Avenue Q.” 

Her microphone wasn’t working, resulting in her having to sing much more loudly, and the orchestra pit having to play much more quietly. It went on until Pit Director Jim Vanizinga stopped the performance so technical difficulties could be resolved, telling the audience that she was too good to not be heard. 

“If that happened to me as a freshman, I would have been freaking out, so nervous. But I don’t know, I was kind of just like it was kind of funny to me,” Rajenthiran said. “And I was like ‘Oh, this is such an experience. I’m gonna think about this years in the future.’ And then remember that happened [on] closing night my senior year.”

Rajenthiran held her head high as the production team helped fix the microphone, with the crowd clapping and cheering her on. 

“In any show, I think the Golden Rule is you just keep going. And so I was just kind of like ‘I’m just gonna keep going,’” Rajenthiran said. “I think my main focus was just to keep going and see. Whatever happens, happens.”

Aside from technical difficulties, the process of producing and performing a show was different this year. The raging coronavirus pandemic called for different protocols and experiences during the whole process. For one, performers had to wear clear masks on stage so the audience could see their facial expressions.

“[With a medical mask], you don’t see your mouth, you don’t see how your entire face is reacting to something, and I think that’s such a big part of acting in theatre,” Rajenthiran said. “And so I think it was just the way to get our expressions across.”

As a person sang, their breath would condensate on the clear masks, and heat would be trapped as performers sang and spoke. Not only that, the sound performers made by singing bounced off the mask, which made it hard for people around to hear what was being sung, Rajenthiran said. 

“It definitely took some getting used to. I mean at first, everyone was like singing in a normal mask and that took a while to get used to. And so switching to a clear mask … was like another thing to get used to, but I think it definitely helped our overall performance,” Rajenthiran said. “It just took some time to get used to, but then by the time of the show we had been practicing with the clear masks. So it was kind of second nature at that point.”

The night ended with emotional farewells and thank yous, as members of the cast and crew gave speeches and flowers to the adults who worked alongside them, who Rajenthiran said were vital to the program. Rajenthiran teared up as she thanked Choir Director Claire Schurig. 

“I’ve known Ms. Schurig, most of the directors, since my freshman year. And, I don’t know, I was just really, really happy that I had been with them all those years, and I learned so much from them,” Rajenthiran said. “But I’m also really sad that I’m not gonna be with them next year, and not do shows next year. It was more bittersweet than full on sad.”

And if asked to put on another musical in three weeks time again, Rajenthiran would not hesitate to say yes. 

“I would definitely do it again. I mean, there are the stressful moments. But then overall, it’s just such a special thing,” Rajenthiran said. “I mean, you bond with people in a way that you don’t bond with people in other ways and it’s just, I love it.”

 

Photo Credit: Lydia Cadena