COVID causes curtain call on Central stage, Broadway

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Photo by Taylor Mazur

Into the Heights was the last performance that graced the Central stage. The pandemic has left many students missing the theater.

Due to COVID-19, many events, both big and small, have seen the curtain come down, and as the pandemic rages on, it will continue to affect a plethora of affairs like plays and musicals. 

“The closing of theatre events has affected me because now it’s hard to be able to do what I love to do,” said theater member Amelia Marshall. “I use theater as a form of expression and it can be very difficult to do online and virtually, this lack of theatre has affected me. I lost what I love. But I know it will soon come back and I can’t wait for that day.”

Broadway, home to 41 professional, live performance theaters, has seen their opening nights and long running performances shuttered since  March 2020 due to COVID-19.

 In response to the closing of Broadway, Lin-Manuel Miranda signed a contract with Disney worth $75 million allowing them to air the Broadway hit he wrote, Hamilton, on their streaming service, Disney+.  Disney+ released the hugely popular musical on July 3, 2020.  It drew in thousands of fans who have either seen the musical or was unable to see it before the last curtain call from the pandemic.  

 “If (viewing the musical) is legal, like the recording of Hamilton, I love it!” explained Drama Club member Ida Alvarado. “It helps more people who can’t see shows in person enjoy them on the screen.  It also shows people who don’t typically watch shows how fun and entertaining they are,”

Some like watching online plays and musicals.

Disney plus is always open for those who have it,” explained junior Maddox Fornataro, both a student in the drama department and a member of the Drama Club. “It has tons of musicals and entertainment for the whole family. My favorites are Hamilton and Newsies.” 

Others, however, feel it’s just not the same. 

“I think it’s nice to have musicals online but you don’t get the same experience as going into the theater to watch them in person,” said Marshall. “It’s much more magical witnessing everything and really feeling like you’re in the show.”

In place of theater, people have been looking for solutions to replace this craving for entertainment. For example, they have been watching TikToks, creating dances, and some even writing songs. 

“I’ve just been singing and dancing around the house,” Alvarado noted.

Central’s own Troupe 6671, who has performed such musicals as Once on This Island, Into the Woods, and dramatic performances of The Crucible and Death by Dessert,  has also had to adjust to the “pandemic life.”  With only around 25 percent of Palm Beach Central students going back to brick and mortar school and mask and social distancing mandates, it has presented a lot of challenges to classes like theater and drama.    

“A lot is going on in the theater club, we’re still having fundraisers and activities, so I highly suggest people come and support those,” said Ms. Marshall, theatre teacher and drama club advisor. 

Currently, there is still no word on the next live performance here at Central. However, other theater-related classes and clubs are still in action.  In AICE Theater, students are reading through scripts and analyzing the characters and the plots. In musical theater, performers are going through the rules and creating posters of them, and singing songs and recording themselves.  

One performance that the campus looks forward to every year is the Sound of Central.  This gives the IND students a chance to shine on stage.  Any future performance, however, is also on hold.

“I’m not sure if we’re doing Sound of Central,” explained Fornataro.  “There aren’t specified plays yet, but Sound of Central is a good bonding experience with the IND kids.”                           

Despite Central’s stage going dark, some theaters are pushing forward by announcing their performances already.  The Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in downtown West Palm Beach, has announced that its first show of the season will open on December 4 with a ballet tribute to famed dancer Marie Hale.  The performance will take place in their smaller playhouse, The Rinker, with masks required and temperature checks at the door.  Prior to this date, all performances have been virtual where interested patrons can purchase virtual access online.  

COVID has left both performers and audiences in the dark with everyone hoping for theaters to open soon. Though there are still many plays, musicals, and movies that could be streamed, it is never the same as watching or performing them on Broadway, the Kravis Center, or Central’s stage. 

“The plays are the best memories I have,” noted Fornataro. “I love watching something we put together knowing how much we worked on it and doing the concession stands are really fun.”

For more information on the Kravis’ upcoming season  https://www.kravis.org/