Stage One: Curtains Open During Covid

Caroline Ross ‘22

Stage One, the name for the group of people at SSSAS who put on the plays and musicals, is a very diverse and close knit group of people that includes four separate departments: the Actors, Pit Orchestra, Set Design, and Tech. Last year, Stage One was able to stage a fall play and spring musical. This is what Stage One does each year and has been doing for years since its creation. However, Covid has made it impossible to do two shows because it requires many people to be close together in CPAC, something that is not possible with the six feet rule. Instead, Stage One has had to adjust and find other ways to continue doing what they love despite the circumstances. I was able to interview all sections of Stage One to find out what they were up to during this unusual year.


The first group of people I spoke with were the actors, and the first actor I spoke with was senior Lena Weiman. Lena has been a part of stage one since her freshman year when she did the Addams Family Musical. She filled me in on what the actors have been up to in the fall: “In the fall we did One Act Films which were like short films. They were student written and directed. Each film was in a small group and was filmed so it could be socially distanced and outside.” Lena said that this was a nice experience but it still wasn’t the same as doing a play.


Next, I spoke with Junior Mimi Shea. Mimi has been a part of Stage One since her freshman year with her first production being Peter and the Starcatcher. She spoke on what the Stage One actors did during the spring, “We are working on a Cabaret, which is just a bunch of actors just singing songs from musical theater and it’s going to be filmed so the whole school can see it.” She continued to say that the actors definitely want to do one more project before the end of the year, but she was not sure what that would be.


The next group of Stage One that I talked to were the set designers and tech department, or the “techies” as they are affectionately referred to by members of Stage One. The set designers are responsible for designing and building the sets for shows. The tech department is responsible for the more technical aspects of a show such as lighting and sound. Senior Sebastian Villarreal who is a part of set spoke about what set has been doing this year, “For Valentine's day we made signs for the Lower School which were based on drawings that Kindergartners made. Currently we are making benches and picnic tables for the Lower School.” Sebastian also stated that he misses doing a real show, but is glad that he still gets to see his friends and socialize. 


Senior Tripp Pratt, a techie, spoke about the changes the tech department has made, “We have been doing a lot of construction-based projects with set. We built stuff for the Halloween drive-thru and are making benches for various campuses right now. We also plan on making an arbor which is sort of like an archway in a garden.” Tripp is also helping with the technical aspects of the pit orchestra project.


Last but certainly not least I talked to members of the pit orchestra. The “pit” is responsible for playing the music that accompanies the singers during the musical each spring. The first member I spoke with was sophomore baritone player Jonathon Kho. Jonathan has been a part of the pit since his freshman year and says that he has had a great experience with pit despite the music being difficult at first. He explained that the pit was currently recording some popular musical theatre songs but wasn’t really sure what would be done with the recording. 


Junior cello player Adriana Criswell elaborated on what Jonthan said, “The actors are doing a Cabaret right now but they need opening music, transition music, and closing music so the pit is just doing short transition pieces as well as an overture and finale to help them out with that.” The recording of the music is set to be completed after spring break. 


As for next year, everyone who I interviewed is hopeful that Stage One will be able to do a fall play and spring musical next year thanks to the rollout of vaccines. The seniors that I spoke with were especially hopeful because it is a Stage One tradition for alums of Stage One to come back to SSSAS during their breaks to watch a production. 


Mr Marvin, the director of Stage One, is also very optimistic about a return to normalcy, “My sincere hope is that we will find our world much safer as more vaccines are given to people and we find that we all can be on campus once again. If we are on campus then we will pick up with having a fall play, the winter musical, and the one-act play festival in the late spring. We all very much want to be back and working together to create wonderful productions and concerts.” 


On a much larger scale, Broadway intends to reopen this summer with certain restrictions which could influence what schools decide to do with their theater programs. Hopefully SSSAS will figure out how to make the play and musical safe so Stage One can get back to doing what they love in the upcoming school year.