By Kimberly Brown

For many students on Long Island, after-school activities have been canceled until further notice due to the pandemic. However, R. C. Murphy Junior High School is one of the very few schools that were able to overcome all obstacles and revive its drama department, making their performance of the musical “Pippin,” which tells the story of a young prince in early Middle Ages searching for meaning and significance, possible again. 

Together with the help of the Three Village Central School District Board of Education, director Anthony Pollera was able to allow himself to think outside the box and find a way to organize the show as well as adhere to COVID-19 guidelines. As a result, he came up with the idea to record the show and sell it as a DVD.

Despite the restrictions, Pollera made “Pippin” safe for the students. All singing parts were prerecorded and performed 12 feet apart, and dancing portions were performed 6 feet apart. Each actor wore masks that worked well with their costumes.

“Our board and superintendent are so supportive of music, theater and the arts.” Pollera said, “They are the reason why all these programs are still ongoing. This group of leaders in our district has rolled up their sleeves and found a way to make it work for us.”

“Pippin” was supposed to be showcased last March but was abruptly canceled once schools began to shut down. Many tickets had already been sold, and Pollera said the students made it all the way to dress rehearsal when two days before the first performance Murphy officially shut down.

“They were crushed, but we felt it was only fair to do the same musical [again],” Pollera said. “However, to be fair and honest, we still held auditions and cast the parts accordingly.”

The students and their parents were more than happy to be back in show business. Dylan Saavedra, who stars as Pippin, said he couldn’t wait to be back on stage, and his parents were equally as thrilled. 

“My parents wanted me back in theater because they knew I was going crazy without it,” Dylan said. “They were pumped that we could do this safely. With masks it is harder to do acting, but they were still super pumped and excited to see it.”

Rachel Rose, who is a leading character in the musical, said while face masks made it harder for the students to act, they took a positive spin on this obstacle and saw it as a personal challenge. In the end, it would improve their acting skills. 

“I think it’s so easy to get caught up in facial expressions that you don’t realize so much of acting is your movement and your voice,” Rachel said. “Wearing a mask has definitely forced me to focus on that, but I think it’s a challenge that is only going to make us better ultimately.”

Details about the “Pippin” DVD release date have not been announced yet.

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