Shoutout to the Platt Theater Department, for figuring out not one, not two, but THREE ways to engage our kids and keep dramatic arts alive here at Platt during the pandemic. Make sure to check out the prerecorded show for the drama festival (which is on March 27) and come to Hubbard Park as we open Meriden's theater season on May 7 and 8!!
MERIDEN — Throughout May, the city’s middle and high schools will transform Hubbard Park into an outdoor theater.
Each week, one school will perform its spring musical at the park bandshell.
Ethan Warner, English and theater teacher at Platt High School, said the idea was first discussed last summer..
“We tried to think of what was the most likely way for us to be able to still perform and my belief was then, and has played out correctly, that our best chance to be able to perform in person was to push our spring musical back to a later date then we normally do it and do it outdoors,” Warner said.
Platt High School will be kicking off the four-week series with “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” on May 7 and 8 at 7 p.m.
“Now with the weather getting better, we’ll start rehearsing outdoors with masks on,” Warner said.
By the end of the academic year, Platt students will have performed three different styles of shows — a radio show, which was live streamed; a prerecorded show for the Connecticut Drama Festival; and the live show at Hubbard Park.
Maloney High School is performing “Footloose” May 13, 14 and 15 around 8 p.m.
Brian Cyr, fine arts coordinator for Meriden Public schools and director of instrumental music at Maloney High School, said that preparing for the outdoor show has been an “awesome learning experience.” The staff has taped off the school’s theater to give students an idea of the space they will be using at the park.
“With theater, (COVID-19) has created a couple of neat new learning experiences that you wouldn’t have expected and I actually think it has done some positive things for our theater program,” Cyr said.
In the winter, Maloney High School’s performance of “Little Women” was filmed and aired online.” Along with Footloose in May, students will perform a reboot of Little Women outside at the school in April.
Washington Middle School will perform “Into the Woods Junior” four times on May 21 and 22. Times will be announced. The rain date is May 23.
Dorri Mendes, choral/applied music teacher and drama club director/music director, said that at Washington they double cast shows to give more students the opportunity to perform. Mendes said 80 to 100 students would normally be involved in the spring performance, but due to COVID-19, she said the show this year does not have an ensemble, so each cast has 22 students, plus a backstage crew.
“Each group will perform their show twice,” Mendes said.
Lincoln Middle School will perform “Dear Edwina Junior” twice on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. Both shows directed by Jacqueline Kevorkian, music/chorus teacher.
“It’s a very good show to be doing,” Cyr said. “It’s a little bit of a smaller cast, but it fits very well into the distancing challenges that we’re having to implement.”