PHOENIX — The logistics of putting on a fall production during a pandemic may be challenging, but students and staff in the Phoenix Central School District knew that the show must go on.
Although the performances won’t be in-person this year, members of the John C. Birdlebough High School Drama Club are rehearsing for the vintage radio theater performances, which will be livestreamed on the district’s website. The shows will air at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20 and at 4 p.m. Nov. 21 at phoenixcsd.org/livestream.
“This production is based on actual radio shows, from the days when families would gather around a radio and listen as actors told their stories,” said JCB English teacher and producer Lisa Spereno. “Our performers will be onstage, reading their lines as if they are in a studio.”
The show will include performances of “Fibber McGee & Molly: Fibber’s Closet,” “Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar: The Jeffords Matter,” “Burns & Allen: Defending the Rat,” and “The Last Guest at the Darjeeling Hotel.” Each brings its own unique story with a one-of-a-kind performance complete with original sound effects generated by crew members.
“Even though we have to physically be apart, these students have really come together like never before,” Spereno said. “Their dedication, innovation and determination have truly shown that they have a passion for the stage and for our Drama Club.”
Actors and crew members have participated in virtual meetings and worked together to follow all the safety protocols recommended by the CDC and New York state. While it has been a challenge, the students noted that they are invested in the play, in one another and in keeping everyone safe.
“I’m so thankful to have this opportunity to be with my friends and participate in a show like this,” said JCB Drama Club member Lily Roberts. “It is refreshing and gives us a sense of normalcy.”
Everyone involved in this year’s production is required to practice social distancing both on and off the stage, wear a mask and find other innovative ways to connect and deliver the best performance possible.
“Putting on a show amid a pandemic is rife with challenges,” Spereno said. “None of us really know what to expect or how it will go, but we are trying to make it all as entertaining and ‘normal’ as possible.”
Since there is no admission fee, donations will be accepted in lieu of tickets sales. Contact Lisa Spereno for more information at Lspereno@phoenixcsd.org.