No pandemic can stop Grand Island Senior High fine arts students from doing what they love. Each year GISH puts on a musical that impresses the audience and leaves them wanting more. They have produced musicals from “The Little Mermaid” all the way to “Mamma Mia!”
This year, COVID-19 caused GISH’s musical to be up in the air, not knowing if the school would be able to have a musical. Most gave up and just faced the fact that GISH would not have a musical. Others did not take “no” for an answer. Seniors Jackson Kissler, Emaline Bockoven and Abigail Vajgrt worked together with the GISH fine arts staff to write their own musical so the students could have a musical this year.
“The Musical Showcase” is about a teenage couple who have applied to the same two colleges. The girlfriend (Harper) was accepted into both schools while the boyfriend (Oliver) only was accepted by one of the schools. The plot then proceeds to follow Harper through her journey of choosing which school she thinks is best for her and deciding whether her relationship is worth keeping after high school.
The senior directors mentioned what inspired them to create this musical. They said, “We were all inspired by the period of our lives we’re going through, and how as seniors we need to make difficult decisions that will ultimately be for the best.”
The senior directors also mentioned their favorite part of creating this musical was seeing it come alive on stage. The vision that they dreamed of for so long was finally becoming a reality. They understood the importance of their role as student directors, but never knew how truly astonishing it would be.
A question that is continually asked is, “How in fact do kids push through with positive attitudes even in the middle of a pandemic?” Bockoven answered, “With the help of GISH’s theater program and teachers, Greg Ulmer and Christine Kier, we were able to green light a bunch of ideas that would not have otherwise gone anywhere. We, as students, pushed through with the help of an amazing team of teachers and educators.”
Many would say although the pandemic was and still is a horrible time to live in as it caused many different disadvantages for people, it also caused many unique advantages for some.
“I do think that the pandemic benefited me by being able to write this musical,” Kissler said. “While it was definitely a roller coaster for the most part, it provided me new challenges that I hadn’t seen yet.”
“I hesitate to say that the pandemic benefited anyone,” Bockoven added. “What it did do is create a unique opportunity for us as students to showcase our art and creativity in a way we normally wouldn’t be able to do. However, we have lost many, many projects due to the pandemic in the last year. The musical has been a wonderful opportunity for us, but this is no thanks to the pandemic.”
However, given this opportunity, directing a musical still isn’t easy. The senior directors expressed their feelings on what the hardest part of directing this musical was.
“The hardest part was having the uncertainty in the beginning,” Vajgrt said. “Not knowing if people will be able to come see it, if all of our hard work is going to pay off, and just the general ‘unknown’ that COVID brings in every situation.”
“Personally, I believe the hardest thing to overcome was the technical aspects of putting a show together,” Bockoven said. “We have so many amazing and talented actors to the point where it is sometimes difficult to keep up with them on a production standpoint. We have been able to pull through, however. I’m very excited to see the whole show come together.”
In the end, everything turned out the best most could hope for. With the vocal help of Jesse LaBrie, the choreography help of Danny Dwaine Wells II, accompaniment by Elisia Flaherty and overall musical help from Christine Kier, Greg Ulmer and every other staff members and students who helped, GISH was able to put on a musical this year.
CDC regulations are still in place, but the students are able to have something, rather than nothing. The performance will take place in GISH’s auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
COVID-19 is no blessing but there are some unique cases where it has opened new doors for people. In this case, GISH students were able to create a musical from scratch and have their own vision for everything. In this horrible time there is still something to be thankful about that otherwise may not have occurred.