By Matthew Tavarez ’22, News Reporter
Numerous types of performances, from Broadway shows to pop concerts, have been shut down indefinitely due to COVID-19. However, Mercersburg Academy’s Stoney Batter Players plan to break that dry spell very soon. Currently students are working on the production of A Chorus Line. Because the school has transitioned to virtual learning, the plan has changed quite a bit.
The original plan was to record the production at the end of the winter term and to broadcast it on YouTube. Director Laurie Mufson said, “Our hope is to perform the show outside so that the performers do not need to wear masks and that the audience can safely gather together to enjoy the performance. We have considered many locations for the show and have now settled on using the performance area in the Boys Garden where we plan to erect a stage with the audience using the terraced hill on the north side of the Burgin Center.”
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, A Chorus Line will be the first musical at Mercersburg performed outside. With opening night approaching, rehearsal is vital, even though it must be conducted virtually. Wren Dahbura ’21 said, “The online rehearsals focus on individual members of the cast rather than the whole group. Each actor has scheduled times to work with Ms. Mufson, [voice coach] Mrs. [Lindsay] Owen, or [musical director] Mr. [Jim] Brinson to work on material. With this style of rehearsal it is apparent that each actor must hold themselves accountable.” Since rehearsals are being held on an individual basis, each cast member must review and rehearse on their own as well as during the scheduled rehearsals with faculty members.
When the school returns to in-person learning, cast members will rehearse more frequently to prepare for opening night. Mufson said, “When we return to in person learning the plan is to stage all choreography, define the blocking for acting scenes, and integrate the singing when ensemble members can hear each other in real time and coordinate their singing. Then all elements will be integrated so we are acting, dancing, and moving within the world of the play. We will return to rehearsal five to six days a week, utilizing the amazing spaces inside and around the Burgin Center.”
Everyone involved in A Chorus Line has worked diligently to establish routines and to make the most of virtual rehearsals. Performing outside is just another hurdle that COVID-19 has created for the musical. Despite the challenges, the cast and crew remain optimistic. Finn Sipes ’22 said, “I just hope that people can come and enjoy it like the times before COVID, no matter what form it comes in.”