“The Show Must Go On:” My Experience Participating in a Virtual Play During COVID-19

January 25, 2021 | By Hanna M.

"When I am on Zoom, my tabs are shut, my mic is hot, and I am well visible.”

This was the warm-up we recited together before each rehearsal of the virtual play. Just like us, our usual recitation had to adapt to the circumstances of a global pandemic. 

In the spring when we first descended into quarantine, our musical production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast was canceled. Coming back to school in the fall online, we were told that the theatrical play this year would be conducted virtually. I was skeptical about a virtual production, but it was my senior year and I knew I wanted to try it out, no matter what. 

After auditioning safely in person, we commenced our practices via Zoom. We all had to get used to this unfamiliar form of acting and push through the disconnected atmosphere of the play. Despite the disenchantment of sitting in my room instead of being up on the MPAC stage, Happily Ever After Loading… 2020 was an interesting experience and one I will never forget. A strange combination of stage and screen acting, managing backgrounds and proper lighting, going from the dinner table to the computer screen in a matter of (very rushed) minutes were all a part of the unprecedented virtual play experience. And just as we adapted to the nature of Zoom and the restrictions of the pandemic, so did our little warm-up. The warm-up, well, warmed up our voices and facial muscles, but it also served as a little reminder to repeat to ourselves as we began to “perform” our scenes. Shut our tabs, stay focused, visible, and ready to speak our lines. 

I enjoyed my role as the Mirror, having scenes peppered throughout the entire play and acting with the Evil Queen and Snow White alike. There was no adrenaline-inducing performance at the end to work towards, but recording the scenes and having the filmed production shown at a drive-in movie night had its own excitement. I am proud that in these unusual circumstances we were able to come together and create a piece of (filmed) theater. Happily Ever After Loading… 2020 was a fascinating experience that taught us so much about the unimagined possibilities that can arise in uncertain times.