Throughout the winter and into the spring, Upper School fine arts students collaborated on an exciting musical showcase, “The Show Must Go On.” The cabaret-style production included 12 incredible student performances that were prerecorded by film students and then shown on The Hill for small groups of socially distanced audiences.
“The Show Must Go On” starred Crawford Arnow, Liberty Baker, Leo Brainard, Marshall Cloyd, Gus Cosby, Zoe Ehrlich, Jack Garcia, Laurel Griffin, Kate Golson, Ellie Gunnin, Layla Metni, Lily Morse, Maya Murtuza-Lanier, Ava Pennell, Hudson Quinn, Ari Sher and Nic Valdes. The production was filmed by Peter Lee, Hawkins Borer and Truitt Flink. Bella Salazar Harper served as production manager, while Film and Theatre Instructor Mike Dolan directed.
“Production was a long process,” Dolan explained. “Once we knew we were going to make a cabaret-style show, we asked students to submit songs that spoke to the unusual times we are going through right now. For their auditions, students sang songs they hoped would be chosen for the show.”
Dolan then created a student advisory board, consisting of Cosby, Gunnin, Morse and Salazar Harper, who worked with theatre program faculty to narrow down the songs to be performed. “In the end the teachers had to make the hard choices,” Dolan noted.
After the show was cast, the cast and crew spent weeks rehearsing the different songs. “There are three ensemble songs that all performers learned together in the Chapel while socially distanced and wearing masks,” Dolan said. “Other solos and duets were taught both on Zoom and in person. We met as a full company on Zoom to workshop and write the introductions to all the shows. The student advisory board chose the performance order and made many critical creative decisions along the way.”
Dolan said he was proud to see students working together to creatively solve problems. “A good example of this is how the introductions to all the songs were created,” he said. “We had a big Zoom call, paired up company members and then they presented their ideas. We all discussed and edited the text, then the advisory board decided who would introduce the songs.”
Although all the songs are entertaining, Dolan said that filming “Aquarius” was a highlight of the production. “It was a ton of fun,” he said. “It was the last song we made. We were outside in the woods, using drones and huge ladders for filming. The kids were having a ball — it is a great song. I can say that was an especially rewarding day.
“Our students are endlessly creative,” he added. “If you give them a big project to really dive into, their commitment and performance are always awesome.”