by Ari Mayblum ’25
As if performing an in-person high school musical is not challenging enough, members of this year’s production will have yet another obstacle to overcome by following newly introduced COVID protocols.
This year, the High School will perform “The Drowsy Chaperone” which opens on February 5, a comedy about the events that occur the night before a wedding.
Sophomore Bailey Goldberg, who has been performing in shows at TLS since fourth grade and is playing the Drowsy Chaperone herself, has been able to adapt to many changes regarding preparation for the performance.
“Before COVID without masks, it was much easier to perform because you could see our facial expressions and it was a lot easier to sing without a mask on,” Goldberg said. “But now with COVID, it’s a lot harder to interact on stage because you don’t always know the subtleties of what the other actors on stage are doing and it’s a lot harder to communicate.
“It was definitely hard at first, having to sing with a mask on and [performing] on stage when we couldn’t fully see everyone’s faces. I think as rehearsals have gone on, it’s been a lot easier.”
Goldberg also believes that the presence of an audience has a substantially positive impact for the actors and is hopeful there will be a live and engaged crowd this weekend.
“It is super important to have an audience, especially to hear feedback and if the jokes in the show are landing, and that’s a big part of the show this year,” Goldberg said. “Communication with the audience and hearing how they laugh and respond to certain things that happen in the show only feeds the energy and just makes the show better.”
Former president of the Leffell Arts board Alison Kessler (Class of 2021) strived to connect to the audience in every performance of which she was part.
“The most special aspect of performing is being able to share your passion with people who appreciate it,” Kessler said. “For me, when I sing, even if the piece is in another language, I strive to make the audience feel what I’m feeling, or to allow them to reach into their subconscious and feel deep emotions.
“Music and art have ‘magical powers’ that connect us together as humans. As performers, we are the vessels that enable the magic of these art forms to come to life.”
Kessler also points to a key component necessary for the cast’s success: self-confidence.
“My advice for the cast and crew is to be confident in themselves and their abilities and to have fun,” Kessler said. “The beauty of live theater is that mistakes happen–just keep going and see where those mistakes lead you.
“A mistake one night may turn into your favorite bit the next night. They are all talented and have worked very hard, so they should be excited to share what they have created with an audience.”
Kessler is studying vocal performance at The Juilliard School and thanks TLS for helping prepare her immensely for this next stage of her life.
“One of my favorite parts of the Leffell Arts is that it’s driven by students and supported by some of the most wonderful faculty members who encourage creativity and leadership,” Kessler said. “If we wanted to perform in or create an event, we were able to.
“Being involved in, and ultimately [being] the president of the Leffell Arts board made me a more driven artist. If I want to learn a specific piece or get a group of friends together to perform, I am confident in myself that I can get it done.”
Director of this year’s performance, Zachary Ferentz, who is also a kindergarten teacher, has been performing for almost 20 years. Ferentz has been in many productions and received his master’s degree in educational theater from NYU.
Ferentz recognizes that wearing a mask while performing is challenging for all, so he decided to order special masks to help the cast while performing.
“We purchased special 3D masks, which are designed for singing and are supposed to stick out away from the actors’ faces,” Ferentz said. “Fortunately, every actor will have his or her own microphone, so we should still be able to hear everyone even with masks on. It gets hot and sweaty under those stage lights, so I’m sure we’ll have extra masks backstage!”
Ferentz is extremely impressed and praiseful of how well his cast has been able to adapt this year to all the challenging circumstances that surround the world.
“I truly applaud my cast for their flexibility throughout this entire process, even thinking back to the very early stages when we were still trying to select our show,” Ferentz said. “The cast voted for one show, and we applied for the rights, but we unfortunately were denied.
“At the last minute we had to pick a whole new show. I love “The Drowsy Chaperone,” but a lot of the actors had never even heard of it. I’d like to think they love the show now, but I appreciate that they trusted me and have continued to trust the process. It hasn’t been easy, and we as a cast and school community have had to overcome many obstacles. I’m proud of the product we are going to present next week, and I’m proud of the students who are a part of it.”