The Show Must Go On: The Return of In-Person Musical Education at Kingsway

Like Broadway, the once bright and bustling stage of Kingsway’s Eitel Theater has remained vacant for nearly a year, so in the early steps of lifting COVID-19 precautions, students find comfort in returning to the spotlight they have missed so dearly.

“Everything about life is still so different, but going to and from rehearsals is a routine, and that routine is a huge part of who I am,” explains Kingsway sophomore Adam Bretz and member of the cabaret.

The dark and dreary months of the winter had dragged on for much too long when students suddenly received word that their band, choir, and cabaret practices could recommence as after-school activities.

“Since we started rehearsals, I have begun to feel like myself again. I’m a whole new person,” claims senior Lila Swietanski. “Since school started this year, I have struggled with staying motivated,” but with the hope of being able to perform this spring, she continued, really makes all the difference.

Members of higher-level music classes such as Select Jazz Ensemble, Choir, and the Cabaret all express their immense gratitude for the opportunity to see their theater castmates and bandmates for the first time in one location since last March. They attribute their return to in-person musical education to the persistence of the teachers, Mr. Henderson, Mr. Sinigaglio, and Mr. Young, who never take a student’s ability for granted or fail to put a smile on their faces.

Between the anticipation of warm weather in the Spring, which will allow outdoor performances and rehearsals, along with the proper ventilation in the Eitel Theater, the administration has decided that: the show must go on, even if it looks a little different this year.

“There have been two classes of Choir Ensemble due to the hybrid schedule, so we have never heard how the group sounds altogether, which has been really weird,” recounts Melanie Schultz, a senior and Renaissance woman in terms of musical production at Kingsway.

Similarly, Daniel Allen, a Jazz pianist in the select Jazz ensemble expresses that although many things can adapt to a virtual environment, music exposes that not every class is versatile in its ability to utilize technology.

With the natural delay in the internet transmission, the notes played on the other end of a screen would come through late or choppy and destroy the integrity of the performance. Those who have been at home, joining class via Zoom are told they must remain on mute and follow along, but their participation cannot be monitored.

“A dog can’t sprint on three legs,” equates Allen, “just like our Jazz Band cannot operate to its full potential without every single member.” For this reason, along with so many others, students were happy to hear the announcement on March 18 that they will be returning to a four-day in-person school week on April 19.

Despite their excitement, theater kids continue to mourn the loss of another year without a musical.

Danny Allen looks back upon what he misses most from last year’s show, and to the surprise of many, his best memories take place before rehearsal rather than during it. Each day before practice, he and his castmates visited the cafeteria and stocked up on food to bring to the choir room where they would hang out rehash stories from their day.

Now, although some practices have returned, that cast bonding aspect is seemingly diminished. Some students like Allen have reluctantly endured an unconventional music class, but many were unwilling to do so.

“I’ve taken choir my whole life,” disclosed sophomore Francesca Solari, “but this year, I just couldn’t do it, because I knew it would not be the same.”

That being said, the struggle to accept the missed opportunities, canceled events, and having an entire year effectively ripped right of their hands is not one that is unique to theatre kids. There are countless examples of the aspects of student life that have changed significantly during the pandemic and have been overlooked.

It is this collective loss of time and experience that students are confident will allow them to empathize with one another and bond with their classmates like never before. As the light of the seemingly endless tunnel begins to draw near, Kingsway students, and most especially their resilient fine arts department are “facing the music” in deciding to be optimistic about what the future holds rather than dwelling on the things COVID as taken from them.

They “strike the right note” in advising their fellow students, parents, and community members to do the same.

— by Audrey Pachuta, Ursuline Academy 10th Grade

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