The show must go on.
Student actors and faculty at Riverside-Brookfield High School were not going to let a global pandemic stop them from putting on a fall play. Last weekend, two separate casts performed the murder farce “Clue” without an audience on successive evenings.
RBTV filmed the performances and is preparing a video that will be available for streaming on Nov. 13 and Nov. 14 and thereafter.
It will cost $8 to watch the play, which can be accessed from a link beginning Nov. 13 on the RBHS website. The video is being delivered through Broadway on Demand.
“You can watch it on your TV, you can watch it on your computer, you can watch it on your phone, you can watch it on any device you want,” said Assistant Director Sarah Johnson.
During the performance, the actors wore clear masks so their faces would be visible. However, the bulky masks caused some problems with sound quality and other technical problems, so a few retakes were done. Glitches forced one performance to stop and go back to the beginning.
Acting while wearing a mask was challenging.
“It was really different getting used to having to act while wearing masks, because it was a little bit more difficult to use the bottom half of our face,” said RBHS senior Haley Rayfield, who played Miss Scarlett in the Saturday performance.
Acting for a camera instead of a large crowd was also different, although one cast sat in the theater while the other cast performed to provide some semblance of a live audience.
“Acting for camera is a whole different thing than just acting on stage,” Rayfield said. “Kind of figuring out a hybrid between those two was definitely a challenge, but I think we’re all really all glad that we had the experience.”
Putting on a play during a pandemic, and mostly during a time when students were not even coming to school in person, was just a challenge. Even while RBHS students attended classes from their homes during the first quarter of the school year, cast members came to school every afternoon and on weekends for rehearsals.
“We all are wearing masks and gloves at all times,” said RBHS senior Tess Obuchowski, who played Mrs. White in the Saturday performance. “We took time at the beginning of the rehearsal and at the end to sanitize any props that we touched. Everybody was as socially distanced as possible.”
The cast members all signed a pledge to maintain social distancing at all times and engage in risky behavior like going to parties or even hanging out with friends outside of school.
“They were just impeccable about their mask wearing; they were really committed to doing the show,” Johnson said.
Cast members knew that if just one of them tested positive for COVID the whole show would be shut down. There were a couple scares when cast members got sick, but no one tested positive for the virus.
“They were really so thankful for the experience, to get out and do something and see their friends,” Johnson said. “They were just phenomenal.”
“Clue” was a good play to perform during a pandemic. The cast is relatively small — 13 roles — and elaborate sets were not required.
While learning lines, the cast rehearsed outdoors as much as possible.
“We tried to be outside all we could,” Johnson said.
After filming the performances with three cameras and a crew of five, RBTV is now in the process of getting the video ready for streaming.
“Getting it ready to be streamed by a company, we want it to look extra great,” said Gary Prokes, the faculty member who heads up RBTV. “We’re going to do some things to make it have a good look and a good sound.”