Cast of ‘Freaky Friday’ continues to rehearse, memorialize the show

June 27, 2020 — by Marisa Kingsley

On the hot afternoon of Friday, March 13, students participating in SHS drama’s production of “Freaky Friday” gathered in the Thermond Drama Center to learn the latter part of their dance for one of the production’s songs, “Watch Your Back.” Little did they know it would be the last time they would rehearse together in person before the show premiered. 

The production was originally supposed to debut in the McAfee Center on Friday, April 24, and close on Saturday, May 2. However, due to the extended shelter-in-place order until the end of May, the cast and crew have made drastic modifications in order for the production to continue. 

According to drama teacher and director Sarah Thermond, the cast has been recording a virtual version of the show via Zoom and Flipgrid, a video sharing platform, as well as rehearsal clips, to commemorate the experience of working on the production. 

“My hope is to edit these together to give people a sense of the show,” Thermond said. “[Also] to allow family and friends to see some of the great performance moments that were developing.”

Thermond said that the production team decided to continue with a virtual show when it became clear that the school would not reopen before graduation. She initially considered the idea of holding a live performance over the summer if permitted by the state but chose the virtual show in order to ensure the cast and crew had a way to recapture the production if state restrictions do not ease. 

Unfortunately, copies of the modified production will not be made available to the public due to copyright issues.

The students recorded the dialogue of each of the scenes together via Zoom but uploaded their singing and choreography to Flipgrid individually due to technical challenges such as Wi-Fi delays that made it difficult to hear one another synchronously. However, for recording smaller musical numbers, the performers were able to record together and recreate musical harmonies heard in the live performance. 

“For our large ensemble numbers, we have largely had to accept that we won’t be able to recapture that, which is, of course, disappointing,” Thermond said. 

Despite the cast recordings, the students who are part of the tech team have been the most affected by the show’s not performing live, according to Thermond. 

In order to integrate their work into the recorded version of the show, each tech will record an interview where they discuss why they wanted to do tech work, their experience on the team and what set pieces they helped build, as well as pictures of each of the set pieces. 

Thermond described the student’s reaction as “mature” and “positive,” despite all the changes that were made. 

“I gave students the chance to check in with me and let me know if the uncertainty and commitment were just too much at this point,” Thermond added. “For a few of them it was, and there are absolutely no hard feelings about that; I get how wild this time is. For the most part, students have been very understanding, and I think excited to meet up with each other and memorialize the show in any way.” 

Senior Ritika Kuppam, who plays Tori, the mother’s business assistant in the production, said that although there have been difficulties settling into a routine with remote rehearsal, she is grateful that the show is continuing. 

“Zoom is honestly a really great way to still keep rehearsal going so I can still see my drama family,” Kuppam said. “Rehearsals were the part of my day that I would look forward to every day, and I found myself really missing it over quarantine.” 

However, Kuppam added that the most challenging aspect of production is the loss of human connection within the cast. She believes Zoom meetings, while effective, cannot completely replicate the experience of performing live. 

“I can’t help but feel sad that I missed out on the live experience of my last show ever at SHS,” Kuppam said. “I’ve done all the shows since my freshman year, and that lack of closure has really been difficult to deal with.” 

Outside of Zoom meetings, Kuppam said that the drama club board has been working on ways to foster bonding within the drama community, including virtual game nights. Additionally, Night of the Stars, an end of the year celebration where the drama department recognizes student achievements and performances, is scheduled for May 30 over Zoom.