The Show Must (Not) Go On!

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The Show Must (Not) Go On!

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Senior year of high school: a time when every soon-to-be graduate has the same question of "what comes next?" on their minds. Some were awaiting admissions decisions from top-tier colleges and universities. Some finally became a team captain. Others were preparing for the College Board AP exams. Many had been eagerly anticipating the upcoming prom and graduation ceremony. For me, it was rehearsing for my senior school musical, "The Little Mermaid", in which I was playing Ariel. I was so excited to be playing a role that I had worked so hard to earn over the course of many years in the drama club, playing various ensemble roles, building the set, and fundraising for our shows. After months of rehearsals, practicing the music, learning the choreography, and advertising for the production, I was ready to share the passion and hard work of our cast and crew with the community. However, I was not ready for "what comes next". On opening night, just one hour before our call time to arrive at the high school and begin putting on costumes and makeup, we got the message from our director that our show dates had been cancelled due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic. I remember the moment clearly, as my cellphone began ringing and buzzing and creating every notification alert possible from friends and family expressing their sorrow. I was absolutely crushed. I wondered how this could be true, as the school had not even been closed down by the virus yet. In the weeks leading up to opening night, I had heard several stories of my classmates' little cousin or my teachers' grandchildren who were looking forward to coming to the musical and meeting their favorite Disney princess afterwards. The director's message was followed by the news that we would still come into school and perform an "invited dress rehearsal" run of the show to be recorded, with two family members per performer/stage crew/orchestra member permitted to attend. As I walked into the high school that evening, everyone around me had tears in their eyes and had appeared to be quite devastated. We had formed a family, one that stuck together through late-night rehearsals, technical difficulties, and the emotional drain that comes with rehearsing for hours after school everyday; but, within each other we found strength - strength that would bring us closer than we ever could have imagined to pour our hearts and souls into that final performance together. And that is exactly what we did. After two hours of giving our all in every scene, every song, and every dance number, we came together for a company bow that gave our final thank you to the family members who had come to support us, despite the increasing health risk that came along with doing so. Having earned the role of Ariel, I was given the final bow; so as I walked to center stage, wearing my frizzy red wig in a costume-rack wedding gown and surrounded by my best friends, I felt only gratitude to have the opportunity to share one final memory with my fellow seniors who also were performing in their last high school show. Looking back on this night, I consider myself so lucky to have spent my final weeks of high school doing something that I love with the people I love. I am very fortunate to have lost only a high school musical rather than loved ones to the COVID-19 pandemic. Going from constantly running - long school days and late-night rehearsals - to a complete stop during quarantine had been a shock. This slow-down, however, gave me the chance to spend extra time at home with my family before packing up and leaving for college this past August. Now, I consider myself incredibly lucky to be attending a college that is handling the pandemic so well, with all students wearing masks and social distancing. While it didn't seem like it at the time, the show did, in fact, go on. Just not quite in the way that I had expected.

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This item was submitted on September 22, 2020 by Danielle Nodelman using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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