MSS Musical Theater returns after pandemic hiatus, albeit online

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MSS students in grades 9-12 showcased their acting and singing skills with a 10-minute production titled “Book Lovers.”

M’CHIGEENG—Manitoulin High School has built a well-deserved reputation for theater over time, but like many things over the past two years, the pandemic has thrown a very big wrench in the works. Fortunately, things cleared up enough that the cast and crew of students were able to put together a performance piece, though audiences will have to access the show online.

“It’s the first attempt to do something,” said education consultant Yana Bauer, who admits it’s been a frustrating process at times. “At one point we couldn’t even sing together,” she said. “We couldn’t come together on stage, there were blockages, things hanging around, this and that, over and over again. It was really frustrating for the kids. In the end, however, the show continued and Ms. Bauer said she couldn’t be more proud of how the students rose to the occasion.

“We have a lot of new students involved,” Ms. Bauer said. In fact, only one student was from grade 12, a few from grade 11, and the rest from grades 9 and 10. students when they could finally see and stand face to face, albeit masked.

Masking presented challenges, said Natalia Bell, who played the lead role of Charlotte. “The microphones had to fit into our masks,” she said. “So sometimes you could hear our breathing and the mics were bumping against the mask.” Some of the dialogue was also muffled during the performance, but as a silver liner, the masks also made it possible to re-record their vocals and dub them into the music relatively easily. “We had a number of dress rehearsals and then some takes,” Natalia said. “So we were able to do it several times.”

Natalia said it was great working with the new student actors and there was a collegial atmosphere in the production, but she really missed the live theater audience. Natalia is a seasoned actress, having performed on stage since the age of five. She was very involved with the Burns Wharf Theater Players.

“It was very different in that it’s only 10 minutes long,” Natalia added, “so it wasn’t a typical musical, but it was still a lot of fun.” There’s a relationship actors have with their audience that’s very difficult to replicate in a recorded performance, she said.

“We had the coaches and some teachers and the team there to watch and cheer,” Ms. Bauer said. “We tried to give them as much of that feedback loop as possible.”

The production, “a high-caliber musical” titled “Book Lovers”, is 12 minutes long, including two minutes of slides and an introduction, followed by a 10-minute production. ‘Book Lovers’ is presented in agreement with Music Theater International, book and lyrics by Talaura Harms and music by Jonathan Bauerfeld.

The story revolves around Charlotte, a shy library patron, who is secretly in love with the librarian. Charlotte “rejects the idea of ​​romance until three of literature’s greatest lovers (along with other guest appearances) slip out of their books to convince her to take a chance on love”.

The production includes Xavier Mara as Dewey, Jordan Goddard as Cyrano De Bergerac, Jocelyn Kuntsi as Helen of Troy, Alexis McVey as Juliet Capulet, Lydia Pennings as Hester Prynne and Zack Hill as Sir Lancelot.

The show’s musical numbers include “Romance is” performed by Natalia; ‘Woo Him My Way’ by Jordan, Jocelyn and Alexis; and ‘Rewrite the Story’ by the whole company.

Stage production was by Heather Theijsmeijer, sound and lighting by Lauren Talbot and Mark Otosquaiob; the stage crew was Willow Fogal, Ezra Diebolt and Daphne Carr and the hair and makeup was by Jill Ferguson.

Ms Bauer was producer, with Michael Zegil art director, Chris Theijsmeijer music director, Ms Ferguson head of costumes and Heather

Theisjsmeijer as stage manager.

The full production of the 10-minute musical can be viewed and shared for free online at YouTube.com by searching “The Book Lovers – Manitoulin SS”.

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