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High School Musical Jr

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P. J. Gelinas Junior High School was transformed for the Gelinas Theatre Company production of the play “High School Musical Jr.” which will be streamed Feb. 5 and 6. Photo from Three Village Central School District

By Kimberly Brown

P. J. Gelinas Junior High School in Setauket will be putting a new twist on the Gelinas Theatre Company production of the play, “High School Musical Jr.”

In efforts to comply with COVID-19 guidelines, Gelinas will be livestreaming the performance Feb. 5 and 6, giving everyone the opportunity to see the play from the comfort of their own home.

Despite the pandemic, the middle school has created innovative ways to keep students involved in after-school activities. Numerous modifications have been made for the students and teachers who participated in directing the play, in order to follow social-distancing rules.

In just a mere four weeks, the director of the play, Brendan Meier, coordinated the musical, to follow COVID-19 protocols. One upside was that the musical was prerecorded, so Meier was able to use the entire Gelinas school as the set and edit it together later. He explained how the process of making the new changes worked.

“In order to sing, we had to be 12 feet apart, so we had to record all of the audio separately and sync it up while doing all the dancing, where we had to be only 6 feet apart,” Meier said.

Ninth-grader Eve Rosengard, who stars in the play as Sharpay Evans, explained how performing distanced choreographed dancing was challenging, as the students were not able to interact with each other as much as they’d like. However, Rosengard stayed positive and was not deterred by the obstacles.

“It’s really, really amazing how all the dances were super easy to learn but were still able to be done while 6 feet apart,” she said. “The school has been incredible with making this happen because none of us thought this was going to happen. It was really an incredible experience and I’m so thankful to be a part of it.”

Parents of the students were overjoyed Gelinas was able to make this production happen, especially after the abrupt cancelation of the play, “The Addams Family,” last March.

Eighth-grader Brian DeGorter, who also stars as Ryan Evans, said his parents couldn’t have been happier that he was once again able to participate in his favorite after-school activity.

“My parents were super excited about the show and they were really grateful,” DeGorter said. “I think they know that every time I walk through that building, I always have a giant smile on my face.”

For more information on viewing the play, visit www.showtix4u.com (search “Gelinas”) and www.threevillagecsd.org/gelinas. Tickets are $10 per device.