The Little Mermaid’s Production Turns to Technology to Continue Rehearsals

Gabriella Gutierrez ’22

Passaic Valley’s Spring Musical this year has been delayed indefinitely due to the recent school closing. However, Passaic Valley’s Theatre Program continues to rehearse, while innovatively adhering to social distancing guidelines. Staff and cast members of this year’s The Little Mermaid have turned to online conferencing technology to direct cast members in memorizing lines, choreographing musical numbers, and everything else a traditional production entails.

The cast is working extremely hard and are remarkably determined to put on the musical when restrictions are lifted. They rehearse several times a week for several hours on Zoom and continue to practice by themselves at home. While rehearsing via video conferencing, the cast comes together and has a chance to rehearse their lines, practice blocking (learning spots for scenes), and rehearse the musical routines. Some areas of rehearsal are more challenging with online tools.

“The music is quite difficult with any online program, because there is a lag and students can’t sing together and it cuts each other out,” said Ms. Jennifer Shue, Director of the Spring Musical. 

Technological issues involving computer lags and network connections presented challenges for the Theater Department early on, but cast and crew have worked through these issues. “I think we are all adapting as well as we can given the situation,” said Mr. Michael DeLuccia, Music Director. “We all know that we want this show to happen so we are all doing whatever we can to make this work.”

Crucial components of The Little Mermaid include set design, stage settings, intricate costumes, acting, and lots of singing and dancing. Members of the production communicate online with directors, theatre alumni, set designers, and dance and music instructors to ensure the play’s success. They even held a video conference with Broadway star, John Treacy Egan, who played Chef Louis on the Broadway production. 

As far as the spring musical’s set design, directors had the opportunity to work with Rob Lavagno, who generally helps Passaic Valley with the plays and musicals. Mr. Lavagno used an online art program to not only create the scenery and props, but to share and explain his ideas and artwork with The Little Mermaid staff and cast members.  

Prior to the school’s closing in March, the cast and crew were able to complete two weeks of rehearsals. “Rehearsals were going really well!” said Mr. DeLuccia. “We learned as much music as possible and were starting to get a great handle of the show.”

The cast is proud of the work they have been able to do despite the obstacles with social distancing. “I think the cast and crew have been putting in a tremendous amount of effort to do the best they can during these times,” said sophomore Chris Perez, who plays Scuttle.

However, the entire production relishes the day when they can finally come together to perfrom. “I’m looking forward to being able to sing with the rest of the cast and having a great time performing when this is over,” said sophomore Chyna Sinclair, who plays Ariel’s mersister.

A cast list for the production can be found on the Passaic Valley Theater website. The enitre cast and crew, which includes Director Ms. Shue, Musical Director Mr. DeLuccia, Assistant Music Director Ms. Pia Vanderstreet, Assistant Director Maggie Lavagno, Set Design and Construction Director Mr. Lavagno, Choreographer Jenny LeProtto, Choreography Consultant Jess LeProtto, and Lighting Designer Nick Marmo, have working diligently to produce a show on par with their past productions despite new challenges. The entire Passaic Valley community anxiously awaits the debut of their work.

 

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