Choral Boosters prepare for April musical


Kyra Horvat

The Show Must Go On: Members of the cast rehearse while staying socially distanced. “We are focusing on getting all of the different components together, and our cast and crew are hard at work memorizing lines and blocking. Our parent volunteers are an absolute life line in helping build the set and sewing the puppets,” said assistant director Jenny Walker.

Kyra Horvat, Staff Writer/Photographer

In March of 2020, schools all across the country shut down, and so did the lights of theatres everywhere. Now, a year later, Mayfield High School’s Choral Boosters are ready to put on a musical again: “Avenue Q: School Edition.”

Music director and teacher Brian Fancher gives this show his full support. He said, “‘Avenue Q: School Edition’ is a great show because it doesn’t need a large cast, has few set changes, and is frankly a really good show! It’s also a convenient quirk that about half of the characters are puppets, so even when the performers are wearing masks, you can still see their character’s mouths moving.”

Larry Braun, the show director and choreographer, has felt great support for this musical from the school administration. “Mayfield High School’s administration, particularly Principal Jeff Legan, has been extremely supportive throughout this entire process. All Ohio Department of Health safety guidelines will be followed…the cast size is extremely small compared to past musicals.  Our current cast & crew total is 25,” he said.

In “Avenue Q: School Edition,” nine of the characters are puppets while only three are actors, along with both human and puppet ensemble roles.  Braun said, “We have some of the most talented puppeteers on our production staff. Assistant director Jenny Walker and technical director Vinny Polowy are building custom puppets for our show, which our program will own and have the ability to rent them out to other theaters in the future as another source of income.”

Walker has not only been a part of rehearsals but has also spent much of her time building and sewing the puppets for the show. She said, “We wanted to keep our actors masked for the show and utilizing puppet characters for expression would be the perfect opportunity to do this with minimal change to the ability to communicate the story on stage. The students have been very cooperative and appreciative of the guidelines we have set to follow and have been grateful to be a part of our program.”

The show will debut April 16th, while cast and crew have already spent weeks rehearsing on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Braun said, “Our talented students have adapted to the new way of doing things and they are all so excited to finally be back on stage and are pouring themselves into this show. I have no doubt that they will make their family & friends very proud.”

Senior Carolina Tellado is the show’s lead actress and has hopeful expectations for the production. She said, “This show definitely has different challenges from our normal ones…The show in general is different from our last because we are indeed using puppets which brings a whole new aspect to the show. I have used puppets before when I was Gingy [in ‘Shrek the Musical’] but it was a very different type of puppet; therefore, I am learning a new skill set as I try to bring the puppet to life.”

In past years, Fancher has not only prepared the students for singing, but also prepares an orchestra for performances. However this year, there will be no orchestra.

“The performance will be nearly normal, other than the performers being masked and there not being a live pit orchestra,” Fancher said. “The progress has been impressive given all of the accommodations we have to take into consideration. I think the cast is so ready to make this show happen. They’re just eating it up!”

The directors have prepared and set guidelines to keep both performers and audience members safe. Braun said, “No one will be admitted without a mask and all ticket sales are being done online only. We will not have a box office for cash purchases at the door to eliminate the exchange of cash and/or paper tickets.”

Though some standards for theatre are being kept like a 15-minute intermission, some aspects have been changed. “Audience members will be seated individually or in small family groups and will maintain social distancing in the auditorium. No friends or family members will be permitted backstage at any time, and we will not have a meet-and-greet in the lobby after the performances,” said Walker.

“Avenue Q: School Edition” has gone through edits to become PG-13 for a high school audience, as Broadway’s “Avenue Q” has some inappropriate content. Walker said, “We are not encouraging young children to come to this show, not only because of the edgier content and subjects, but also because we do not want small children to potentially be exposed or not be able to maintain their mask-wearing for the entire performance or be able to remain in their seats. We all cannot wait to perform for our friends and family for the first time on Friday, April 16th!”