As the effects of the coronavirus pandemic have brought many changes to the day-to-day experience as a public school student this fall, there's another challenge for California High School students to add to the list — successfully putting together a musical while navigating a time of social distancing and contact tracing.
This year's high school musical is "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" and will be performed this Saturday and Sunday.
With the school district shifting to virtual learning earlier this week, the musical, unfortunately, won't technically be open to the public due to the limited number of seats. The 46 students involved in the musical are able to reserve seats for their family which takes up most of the seats after social distancing rules are applied.
Nevertheless, it is still set to continue as planned and the musical's preparation has otherwise been normal. Some students have been in and out of quarantine, so that's made things a little difficult when it came to practicing, director Michele Bilyeu said.
"I'm hoping now that we went to virtual learning, for me personally, it might be better because they're not around as many people," Bilyeu said. "That's just the biggest thing right now, we just hope we make it through the weekend. We've had a couple kids in the chorus and backstage get quarantined last week so we had to find some people to fill in, so that's different. Otherwise, the show itself is going on pretty much normal. It's going to be a great show — I hate that we are having to limit the people."
"Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" is set in the 1800s. There are seven bachelor brothers who live up in the mountains. The oldest brother goes into town to find a wife and when he brings her back, the other brothers decide they all need a wife, too. And the way they go about it is a little unconventional and with a lot of humor, songs and square dancing.
"It's the first high school musical that I directed 14 years ago, we did it at the UCC Church and I always said I wanted to do it again when we had the performing art center," Bilyeu said. "I just felt like this was the group of kids to do it, they're really enjoying it, and it's going to be a fun, fun show."
Again, seating is limited, but Bilyeu said organizers are hoping by next year things will be back to normal and they will be able to share their musical with the community again.