'The show must go on': Rural musical moves online to teach life lessons, build community
Musical director says continuing on teaches the kids resiliency and how life can change
An Estevan elementary school has decided the show must go on and will put on a virtual musical to keep an annual tradition alive.
The Hillcrest Public School puts on a musical at the end of May each year. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to the Hillcrest Hurricane drama group's production of Sally Sells Sea Shells.
Sarah Posehn, a Kindergarten teacher and the musical's director, didn't want to see months of work being lost.
"We started our rehearsals and auditions in early January," Posehn said. "It was pretty disappointing but it was kind of the least of our worries with everything else that we had to figure out kind of overnight there."
Posehn said that as tim went on, she thought about how restarting the musical virtually could be good for the kids.
"Still have that community and still be creative and still collaborate together on something during this time when we're all so separated," Posehn said. "It was a great opportunity to still put on our production in some way."
The same company that made Sally Sells Sea Shells created The Show Must Go Online, a new production for people in Posehn's position. Posehn got support from her principal and said it all came together.
"I went from there and started messaging my kids and getting a little Microsoft team set up and we started our rehearsals pretty quickly," she said.
The show is a musical within a musical. It's about a school that has to cancel their musical and risks their drama department being shut down.
"It's broken up that each character gets about a one minute scene where they have to record themselves," she said. "It's meant to be performed at home with stuff you have."
Some tape toothbrushes to their shirts while others are in a closet with a flashlight to their face because they're depressed about the state of drama in the world, for example.
"It's pretty funny and the songs are really catchy and the kids are having a good time with it," she said.
Life can go on even though things can change in a heartbeat and it's not going to be the way you thought it was gonna be.- Sarah Posehn
Posehn said the group has team meetings twice a week and she holds one-on-one meetings to work through filming and more. She's teaches them things like lighting themselves properly using a window, holding the phone horizontally instead of vertically, recording themselves and singing together over Zoom.
After each child records themselves individually, Posehn will put all the videos together so people can watch it as one complete musical. She hopes to get all of the children's recordings by the end of May.
Posehn said the process is teaching the children life lessons.
"It's important to teach the kids resiliency," Posehn said.
"Life can go on even though things can change in a heartbeat and it's not going to be the way you thought it was gonna be."