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Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


The Show Must Go Online: Students Record Spring Musical

This year, auditions were conducted virtually. Photo: Sidwell Friends.

In lieu of a traditional musical that follows the story of one set of characters, this year, Sidwell Friends Upper School students are preparing for a cabaret-style showcase featuring a variety of songs from different musicals. The Spring Musical will be shared with the Sidwell community via a Zoom webinar on April 30. 

Upper School Choral Music Teacher and Equity, Justice, and Community Coordinator Sarah Markovits is directing this year’s Spring Musical production. Markovits chose the cabaret format due to the constraints of rehearsing and filming via Zoom, as well as the current legal limitations of getting rights to shows. 

Despite the difficulties of online coordination, Markovits said she sees this digital production as a blessing rather than a setback, adding that the virtual format provides the audience with a new way of experiencing theater. 

“The idea of doing it this way was just to give some sort of opportunity for the Upper School to be able to do some type of theatre,” Markovits said.

She added that without any non-virtual options, she “really wanted to make sure that the musical was a thing that would happen.”

During auditions in a traditional year, students sing a few excerpts and read lines in the Caplin Theater for Markovits. This audition process allows the actors to get a sense of the music and types of roles in the production. At the very least, the student actors go into the audition knowing the premise of the musical.

This year, however, auditions were conducted virtually, and Markovits asked students to record themselves singing a musical theater song of their choice. Markovits said she took advantage of this individual aspect and built the roles and scenes of the musical around the students’ strengths.

After being cast, the actors began to rehearse.

“Usually, we have rehearsals after school every night, and it’s hours and hours; this time what I did was I scheduled each ensemble for 45-minute blocks that happened each week,” Markovits said, adding that actors would record scenes during the weekly Zoom meetings.

The online format offers several unique challenges.

“One of the biggest changes is… having to pre-record our songs,” senior Hyland Wood said. “Using Zoom also makes portraying a character difficult, and it is also hard to connect with other members of the cast.”

Freshman Elena Faz Garza agreed with Wood’s assessment of the social aspect of rehearsals. She said she believes rehearsals are “missing a lot of the chemistry that comes from being able to perform and practice together in person.”

Nonetheless, Faz Garza said that being a part of the production is “still a nice way to get involved within the Sidwell community.”

While pre-recording and lip-syncing can be difficult, there are numerous benefits to this year’s structure.

“The recording and filming [have] been nice because you have a lot of chances to redo it until you get the recording exactly how you want it,” Faz Garza said.

Additionally, Wood said that the musical is “a lot less of a time commitment,” which allows performers more free time after school to balance schoolwork, athletics and other activities.

All of the scenes in the musical are duets, trios or quartets and have a “positive, forward-looking message,” according to Markovits.

Among the cabaret lineup are well-known love ballads, wacky group numbers to make audiences laugh and slower songs to bring out a more emotional side.

“Even though it’s happening in this weird format, I hope that the musical is fun for those who are doing it and fun for the community to see it,” Markovits said.

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Erica Lu '24
Erica Lu '24, Editor-in-Chief
Erica Lu is currently Editor-in-Chief of Horizon. She served as a Features Editor in the 2022-2023 school year. Prior to that, she worked as a Staff Writer for the newspaper.
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