Eastside Catholic School hosts first indoor performance since start of pandemic

The students will be performing “The Drowsy Chaperone” with opening night taking place on April 6.

Drama students at Eastside Catholic School are performing “The Drowsy Chaperone,” their first indoor performance since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The American musical comedy centers around a middle-aged, asocial musical theatre fan who plays a record of his favorite musical; the show comes to life on stage as the character comments on the music, story, and actors.

“We went with the Drowsy Chaperone because it’s very lighthearted,” said Holly Whiting, drama teacher at Eastside Catholic School. “It’s really kind of a spoof of looking at musicals from the 1920s, and it’s got good numbers in it, and it’s not too much dance but just enough.”

Whiting said prior to the pandemic, the drama department was preparing to open “Cinderella,” but things came to a halt once COVID-19 reached the region.

“Basically, we haven’t had theatre for about two years,” said Whiting. “I think the arts have really suffered during this pandemic period these last two years.”

Due to awareness and sensitivity, several scenes were cut from Eastside Catholic’s take on the play, and a few script adjustments were made.

“Over the last two years, a lot of this has happened since George Floyd and Black Lives Matter — just more sensitivity around racial issues,” Whiting said.

While the school does not have a theatre, Whiting said, they made the decision to perform at Kirkland Performance Center at 350 Kirkland Avenue. The venue allows for greater artistic capabilities and accommodations, such as a dressing room.

“When you’re building a show at a school in a gym, it’s extremely challenging because you’ve got to build out all of those spaces,” said Whiting.

The cast consists of 28 students and nine technical crew members who are in grades 6 to 12. Whiting described how the opportunity to perform in a theatre has been a great experience for her technical crew members working in a professional setting.

“You can never speak for a student, but I think the students enjoyed having a sense of normality back,” said Whiting. “I think they enjoyed that camaraderie and the community that just comes with theatre.”

Whiting emphasized how there has been disconnect with students during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that theatre can assist with building a strong and supportive community.

“That is one thing I have to say about my Catholic crew, is that they are wonderful individuals and they have really connected with each other,” said Whiting.

“The Drowsy Chaperone” opens at 7:30 p.m. April 6, with performances taking place on April 7, 8, and 9 at 7:30 p.m. (On April 9 a performance will also be held at 2:00 p.m.)

Tickets are available through the school’s website, with student ticket prices costing $10, and adult tickets costing $15.

“I hope they walk away with feeling uplifted and rejuvenated and entertained, and have a new commitment to theatre, or a reestablished commitment to theatre,” said Whiting. “I kind of hate the phrase ‘feel-good,’ but it is a feel-good musical.”

Drama students from Eastside Catholic School perform ‘The Drowsy Chaperone.’ Courtesy of Brian Morse.

Drama students from Eastside Catholic School perform ‘The Drowsy Chaperone.’ Courtesy of Brian Morse.