The MaST Community Charter School drama club was less than a week away from presenting The Wizard of Oz last year when the coronavirus shut down all activities.
That meant no Oz and no after-party.
“It was sad. We got together and watched the movie over Zoom,” said Molly McDonagh, who was set to play the Lion.
To keep his performers occupied, director Steve Schmidt organized five virtual living room concerts.
This year, he and producer Melissa Hartner were hoping that the students could perform Frozen, a musical, live on stage. Virtual rehearsals began in October.
“These kids need an outlet,” said Schmidt, in his sixth year as director. “It’s all about the kids.”
Ultimately, in April, the school allowed three outdoor performances, and in-person rehearsals began.
Though the drama program is available to first- to 12th-graders at MaST’s school on Byberry Road, recent rehearsals and the performances are taking place in the rear of the campus on Roosevelt Boulevard, at the former Crown Cork & Seal.
Attendance is limited, and the kids will be wearing clear masks that will enable the audience to see their facial expressions.
“Two parents are allowed to come to see what we worked really hard on,” said sophomore Giovanna DeRose, who will play the male lead Kristoff in one show and Weselton in another.
Rehearsals are permitted only on Saturdays and Sundays, and Schmidt said he lost two of his better perforrmers who were unavailable due to weekend jobs at the shore.
Still, he is happy with the way things are going.
“I have three great casts,” said Schmidt, whose son Stephen, a junior, will play Hans.
The performances will be May 24, 25 and 26. Parents will be sitting on chairs in a grassy area while their kids will be on stage just outside the rear exit of the school.
“It’s a smaller stage, 20 feet or so, but we’re just happy to be with each other in person,” said McDonagh, a sophomore who will play Elsa on May 25.
The community will be able to watch a free streamed version of the show on June 1, 2 and 3 at 6:30 p.m. on MaST’s Facebook page.
“I’m glad that this year’s seniors will be able to perform one show before they graduate,” Schmidt said.
DeRose, who missed out on a chance to play the Wicked Witch in Oz last year, has enjoyed her four years with the club because it gives young people a chance to express themselves.
“I love acting and love doing it with everyone. The people are amazing. It’s like a family atmosphere here,” she said. ••