The show must go on at Coon Rapids High School. Although the school has moved to full-time distance learning as the number of COVID-19 cases in the county rises, the theater department is determined to put on a live production. The cast and crew will put on the socially distanced fall play from "mini studios" set up in their homes. The virtual show is set to stream live online next week.
Theater Director Karla Haij is running rehearsals in Google meets and said they are all learning as they go.
"We had to put it together one way or another," she said of their upcoming show, "Almost, Maine." Haij said many of the students were supposed to be involved in the spring musical at Coon Rapids High School, which was abruptly canceled in March when the pandemic began. "If we can figure out a way, I don't want them to have to miss out on another opportunity."
Student actor Danny Rupert says learning to act next to a screen rather than a classmate comes with some challenges.
"I definitely feel like everyone in the show has grown a lot," he said.
Coon Rapids High School thinks it may be the only school in the area putting on a fully live, virtual show this fall. Each student was given equipment to set up a makeshift acting space in their home. Using webcams, lights mounted to stands made from PVC piping, and "green screens" made from dyed sheets, the students hope to make everything look as realistic as possible. A computer program will project images onto the green sheets to give the appearance that the cast is together.
It's been an exercise in patience and resilience that comes with sharing your senior year of high school with a pandemic.
"I've kind of realized that you just have to find, like, the good little parts in it all," said Rupert, "and try to stay positive about it."
Showtimes for "Almost, Maine" will stream live on November 13 & 14 at 7 p.m. and November 15 at 2 p.m. Purchase tickets at crhstheater.com for $5 per device.