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BWW Blog: The Show Must Go On, Except When A Pandemic Comes to Town

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BWW Blog: The Show Must Go On, Except When A Pandemic Comes to Town

Schools of all education levels, local theaters, national tours across the country and even Broadway itself had to make the tough decision about whether performances would continue when COVID-19 began majorly impacting America. With the safety of the general public being the most important concern, it quickly became clear productions would have to stop for the time being. After Broadway shut down in mid-March, performing arts departments in schools all across America came to the difficult conclusion that their shows would not make it to the stage for an audience to see or enjoy.

At Wilkes University, students were preparing for their upcoming show The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, their last performance of the year, and couldn't have been more excited to start rehearsals after the success of their spring musical The SpitFire Grill. When the university made the decision to send students home due to the virus, all plans for performances within the department were put on hold such as the annual dance recitals, plays, concerts and more. Everyone was expecting to return and continue forward with the plans to put on their regularly scheduled shows.

Unfortunately, while the devastation and disappointment took over thousands of eager musical theater and theater students from the East to West Coast, the Wilkes Department of Performing Arts got the news that there would be no returning to campus until the fall and had to come to terms with the sudden cancellation of their approaching spring shows. Senior students wouldn't get their final bows or the proper send off from the university's stage and each cast, company and group lost an important event in 2020.

Besides the cancellations, postponements and overall bad news regarding what the department would be missing out on due to COVID-19, the switch to strictly remote learning was extremely difficult for performing arts students. While most classes are easily able to transition to a platform where face-to-face instruction is no longer needed to continue the education in that subject, there are several exceptions.

Dance, acting, theater and music classes faced the biggest trouble of how to make the change. Professors had to figure out the impossible to make the instruction that almost requires the group to meet in person accessible and doable online. The transition included students submitting videos of reciting monologues, singing their part of choir pieces, following along with a video from their dance instructor at home and much more.

Katelyn Sincavage, an upcoming senior musical theater major going for her BFA, was one of the many Wilkes students who experienced the impact of COVID-19 directly. In her almost ten years of theater, she has been a part of several shows throughout her career which include her roles as Shelby Thorpe in The SpitFire Grill and Claudia Nardi in Nine at Wilkes in the 2019-2020 season which was cut short by the pandemic.

Finishing out the semester under such weird and new circumstances made completing the remainder of her classes a challenge compared to what she expected before COVID-19 took a toll on everything she knew about her education. From the way classes were conducted to realizing there wouldn't be another show for the year, Sincavage had to adapt to the new normal quickly along with her fellow castmates and friends. The unexpected impact of the global pandemic wasn't in the plans for her college years, but similar to everyone else, she took it in stride and made the best of the situation.

Although the well known and loved theater saying goes "The show must go on!" which proves that no matter the issue, performing arts will continue to thrive and put on the best production possible despite the means. But in early 2020, when COVID-19 started claiming thousands of lives and everyone's safety was put at risk, productions across the country were stopped and certainly didn't go on for the fear of spreading the virus.

In the coming months, hopefully sooner rather than later, the countless students who missed out on their beloved joy of performing on stage will get the chance to again and the show will go on once more.

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From This Author Student Blogger: Breanna Ebisch