Allderdice’s First Theater Production in Two Years

Junior Eli Wynn and freshman Hannah Hurowitz perform a theatrical scene from act two.

(Zoe-Obenza Bridges)

Junior Eli Wynn and freshman Hannah Hurowitz perform a theatrical scene from act two.

Our first full in-person school year since COVID-19 has brought many opportunities back to the Allderdice community. The theater program is no different. During the year and a half of online school, the theater productions had come to a grinding halt. During a typical school year, there is a fall cabaret performance (a series of solo singers), a fall play, and a spring musical. However, due to the pandemic, the last live production was the Fall Play of 2019.

The fall cabaret was the first performance of the year. Singers could occasionally be heard rehearsing from the auditorium after school. The Fall Play is a series of “One-acts” titled, “13 Ways to Screw up Your College Interview” and “Check Please”. Both of these acts followed a similar format, with only two to three actors on stage at a time. The actors comically and creatively screwed up their college interviews for the first act. They created characters with intolerable personalities, humorously painful monologues, or were seemingly perfect applicants, except for being “practicing vampires.” The first act had the audience charmed

The second act, equally as entertaining, was a series of the “worst possible dinner dates”. From a threatening conversation with a deranged football fan to a dinner date with a mime, the second act was just as comical as the first.

Ms. Madden-Harrold, the Acting 1 and AP English Language and Composition teacher and theater director was excited to get the productions up and running again. She even offered “class points” for students that attended the shows. 

Despite the normal obstacles that the theater and musical program usually face, another challenge arose: mask regulations. According to Ms. Madden-Harrold, the policy explicitly states that students in chorus and theater are required to wear masks when performing. However, indoor school sports do not have the same mask requirements. Those decisions are governed by the District Athletic Director. 

According to Nesbitt, the Allderdice Wrestling coach, “Our wrestlers have to wear masks when they aren’t wrestling, like when standing on the wall, or sitting during instruction. When students wrestle, they can take them off because they get pulled off during action on the mat. Our District Athletic Director Karen Arnold makes the call on that.”

Freshman Hannah Hurowitz, who participated in this year’s Fall Play, says, “Some members of the cabaret requested to not be required to wear masks while performing, but Dr. McCoy had declined their request.” 

Senior Sammie Samuels, who participates in the annual cabaret as well as the Fall Play and the spring musical, expressed her views on the situation. “Wearing a mask has made everything more difficult in the theater. When singing, it’s extremely hard to get the right amount of breath while wearing a mask, which can really take a toll on the performers. In any theater performance, a huge part of acting is facial expressions, which are completely covered by the masks, this changes the entire dynamic of the performance. It’s not fair that indoor sports teams such as wrestling and other contact sports are able to hold practice without masks when performers in theater do. We’ve asked both Dr. McCoy and the district to change this policy and allow us to perform without masks, but no change has been made. I’m all for COVID safety, but it’s not fair we have to suffer.” 

Allderdice Principal Dr. James McCoy commented, “…The Pennsylvania Music Educators Association recommends masking for performances as their website states, ‘Making with appropriate material remains the best way of reducing potential infected aerosol from circulating in an indoor space while singing and speaking.’” 

Despite these obstacles, as they say, “the show must go on.”