Lake Forgie, left, and Tyson Robinson play Mrs. and Mr. Jabinksy the parents of the groom in Scenes from a Wedding, in which Kinsey D’Archangelo is the bride, Lizzie Wellington. (Zoe Ducklow - Sooke News Mirror)

Lights, camera, COVID compliance

How Sooke high school students staged a musical during a pandemic

Musical theatre students in Sooke are putting on a show about love and relationships, regardless of the two metres between them. In fact, half the cast and crew never even met the other half.

Two classes filmed their scenes months apart, and musical theatre teacher Lisa McLellan is busy editing the footage together into a cohesive show. The two classes would typically work together, but with the octo-semester system and social distancing requirements, they found a new way to produce a musical with a cast and crew of more than 50 people.

The musical, Scenes from a Wedding was written by McLellan’s students 14 years ago. They couldn’t afford to buy the licence for a big show, so they wrote their own.

“They liked the awkwardness of relationships and of falling in love, even when you’re young. And as you get older, that isn’t perfect either. Life is messy, family meddles, it’s not a fairy tale. Things spiral out of control, things go wrong,” McLellan said of the musical and life.

The story follows a couple who fall in love in high school and later decide to get married. It’s structured with a series of flashbacks, which worked perfectly for filming with two classes separately. In February, the junior class played the young versions of the characters, and seniors played the adult versions in their May semester.

The flashbacks also serve as a complicated reminder that “your past doesn’t always stay in your past,” McLellan said.

It was awkward rehearsing, filming, singing, stage-blocking and all the rest with physical distancing and masks all the time, McLellan said, but the students made it work. In the wedding scene, they wore gloves, for example.

The strangest part three of the Grade 11 and 12 stars said was actually the tight time frame. Normally they’d work on a show over six months, but with the eight-semester schedule, they did it all in five weeks of full-time scene studies, character sketches and final rehearsals. They also missed out on the butterflies of a live performance.

The show goes live on June 18 and will stay posted until June 27 on YouTube. Look for the link here:

Fully half of the drama department’s budget comes from ticket sales in a typical year, so instead of tickets, the school accepts donations online: Specify the EMCS Musical Theatre Year-End Performance in the fund destination drop-down menu.

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