After 4 consecutive postponements due to COVID- 19, the Sterling College Theatre department was finally able to present “Carousel”.
Sasha Hildebrand, show director and theatre professor, emphasized that when they had the green light , the show would go on as long as the main characters were not affected.
They had produced perfect shows on January 15th and 16th.
Hildebrand was pleased at her students and the showing in the audience as well.
“Everyone pulled together and worked together as a team to really make sure that everything came off real well.” she said. “And the show happened, and it came off in a way that was really powerful. I think everyone was really impressed and really enjoyed it. The kids have every right to be proud of themselves for what they have endured so long and getting something out of it. The payoff is really nice.The fact that we did it and people saw it.”
The show, implementing social distancing and capacity limitations, sold out for both nights.
Hildebrand and her crew knew that heading into this school year that they were going to have some issues.
Before this school year began, the theatre department wanted to make sure that they had a plan for the fall.
There were rules and guidelines put in place to make sure everyone was doing what they needed to do in order to remain safe. Student’s safety was the number one priority. Wearing masks at all times were one of the rules, of course, They rehearsed in different places.
For Hildebrand, the new pandemic required a new mentality.
“Things would have to change and things might have to be flexible. Flexibility was the keyword,” she said.
Theatre is like a sport, except you have anyone on the bench or sideline to replace you. This was another alternative to think of in the future — to incorporate backups to play main characters, just in case something were to happen to the main characters.
Hildebrand had to make the decision to not do the big musical and do a much smaller play in which there were no delays. At that time there was not a lot of exposure.
Over time, many students and staff began leaving and going places which brought exposure to the campus. So the days of no cases began to slowly cease.
Hildebrand stated that there are 30 plus characters. Most are ensembled members. If any of those characters get sick, the show would still go on because they are not the main characters.
Hildebrand stated that they couldn’t replace the main character. “She is one of our main dancers. She’s worked really hard. And she does a beautiful job, and we didn’t want to take that away from her,” she said.
Postposing shows does take a toll on the morale and emotions of Hildebrand and her crew.
“It’s tough. It’s disheartening. But we knew this could be a possibility going into it, and the students were aware of it too” she said. “As far as what they tell me, there is no question that we do the show when we can. Nobody wanted to give it up. Nobody wanted to let two months of work go down the drain and let nobody see it.”
Hildebrand said the department has sacrificed lots of publicity for it, but many of the actors involved were excited to do the play finally.
Kalasia Thomas, a junior and music performance major, played the character, Star Keeper. “After many setbacks from doing the play because of COVID, I felt very grateful to do it,” Thomas said. “We were able to do it because we had all of our cast members available at one time.”
Thomas felt that she had also learned something from this experience. “I learned to continue to have stamina and work together for the greater good of the show,” she said.
Freshman Rebekah Parrish, an ensemble member, said she felt amazed as the show came together. “After all the times of the show getting postponed, it felt amazing to finally do it,” she said. “It was pretty surreal going on the stage and seeing an actual audience there to watch it. The show was able to happen because we took safety precautions with COVID and made sure we were being careful and no one was quarantined.”
Along with Thomas, Parish also felt that she had learned something throughout the wait.
“I think the biggest thing I learned was that disappointments happen. It’s hard, but it’s always best to trust that God has a plan in it all and he is using that disappointment to make you stronger,” she said.
Hildebrand also noted that they had someone film the show from every corner on tape to give an opportunity to those who were not able to see the play in person.
Individuals may purchase access to the performance online.
Hildebrand also noted that placing the plays online would be an important source and advantage for the remainder of the year.
“Live theatre is almost the most magical theatre..it’s the next best thing,” said Hildebrand. Hildebrand hopes that the show would become the most widely seen show in Sterling College Theatre history because of the availability to watch the show online from anywhere.
As she reflects upon the experience of performing “Carousel” in a pandemic, Hildebrand found things she has learned from all of it.
“Endurance, passion, and the drive to keep going. We could’ve said we were going to cancel this and just let it go. But, we put some much work into something that we can do,” she said. “In life, There is going to be continuous amounts of rejection, disappointments, and feelings of failure at every turn. It’s the people that overcome rejection and keep going because they are passionate about what they do. Those are the people that keep getting jobs, because they do not give up.This is a testament of a person’s will and the ability to maintain that.”