MERIDEN — For the first time since March 2020, Orville H. Platt High School students will perform a play on their indoor stage with “The Three Musketeers” scheduled to run Dec. 2-4 at 7 p.m.
“I’m looking forward to them performing in front of a live audience again,” said Ethan Warner, English teacher and theater director. “Having an audience in our house, having an audience get to see the excitement on stage. The first time I hear a bunch of applause after a scene, I think I am just going to be thrilled.”
With COVID-19 impacting school and theater, Warner said some of the students haven’t been in a school in over a year or performed indoors since before the pandemic.
“I’ve got kids who are freshmen now, but the last time they got to actually perform was when they were in seventh grade .. Or really some of them actually when they were in sixth grade,” Warner said. “... They’ve really embraced the chance to return and we’ve even have a lot of new kids who have never been involved before.”
Warner said he has more students participating in stage crew than he has had in many years. Peter Sirois, industrial technology teacher, is in charge of building the sets. He came up with the idea of the sets, but students have been building everything.
“The students cut and assembled the legs for all of the platforms together, they braced all of the platforms so that they were sturdy and could support the actors standing on top of them,” Sirois said. “We had to build a couple staircases, they’ve attached flaps toward the back of the platforms for our scenery and our backdrops and everything.”
For the actors, a choreographer that specializes in fight training came to teach the students how to act out action sequences.
“It was a new thing for the students, a fairly new thing for me as well so the kids started actually right after auditions with fight training before we even started rehearsing any of the scenes because we knew that would take longer,” Warner said.
Along with learning how to fight during the action scenes, Warner said the students have had to learn how to act while wearing masks.
“Normally for a play, a non-musical, I don’t have the kids use microphones, but we will be using microphones,” Warner said. “... The kids are working really hard on their diction and projection. At this point most of them are so used to it that they don’t really have a problem.”
Even though it took some time to get the students back into the rhythm of rehearsing and memorizing lines, Warner said they were all eager to get back into performing and spending time with their peers.
“They were so excited to be with their friends again, so excited to be back on stage again, to be saying lines again, rehearsing scenes again,” Warner said. “There was a little bit more of a learning curve of being like, ‘How do we take this seriously? How do we focus again, to get to task again?’ Because they were all so eager.”