MOUNT DESERT — Theatergoers can look forward to watching the school’s fall musical, an adaptation of Aristophanes’ “The Frogs,” performed in person in the school’s Higgins-Demas Theater Nov. 12-20.
With live performances on hold last year due to the pandemic, the high school’s fall musical was filmed instead, with a delayed release. This year, MDI Drama’s director Casey Rush said the curtain is set to rise again.
“I think that this will be another big deal where the folks will be able to come see a play in the building,” said Rush.
“The Frogs” is a comedy that was written by the Greek playwright Aristophanes in 405 B.C. and designed to poke fun at the elite. Before it was adapted into a musical, it was used as experimental theater in the mid-1970s. In the early 2000s, actor Nathan Lane and playwright Burt Shevelove collared composer Stephen Sondheim to adapt the play into a Broadway musical.
Pandemic protocols inspired MDI High social studies teacher Mark Puglisi to choose “The Frogs.” Puglisi, who has directed high school and Acadia Community Theatre plays, said he chose the play specifically because he wanted something where actors could wear masks naturally on stage, although, he said, “The Frogs” has not been previously performed in masks.
“I wanted to do a show where the audience was not going to be distracted by actors wearing surgical masks that don’t pertain to the show,” said Puglisi.
Actors will be wearing surgical masks, but they will be hidden underneath comedy masks. Though he said it will be a different experience for most of the players, the director said he is fortunate to have a few actors in the play who have experience wearing masks in theater.
“Sound will be kind of tricky. It’s going to be muffled but we’re going to mic [the actors],” said Puglisi, noting that performers wearing masks provides opportunities for the tech department to bounce light off the masks.
Since both singing and music produced by woodwind or brass instruments are thought to be higher-risk activities for COVID-19, the production’s pit band will place a cover over their instruments. While performing on stage, the singing cast will also wear surgical masks. “For rehearsals we’ve been masked up and going about our business. The play has had its challenges but we’re soldiering through it,” Puglisi said.
With the pandemic’s restrictions, Puglisi said the students have been really great about being patient. “I think it’s because they really want that activity that they’ve missed out on,” adding that even though there were theater activities in 2020, there were even more restrictions. Puglisi said the kids seem grateful that theater is somewhat back to normal and have been compliant since auditions in September. And, unlike last year, the play has had some parent volunteers.
This year, the house will be capped at half capacity. Rush said 200 seats will give the audience opportunities to socially distance themselves. There will be no concession stands or reserved seating.
“I don’t see any reason why we won’t be able to do this [production]. I really think at this point we are going to be able to move forward,” said Rush.
The high school’s rendition of “The Frogs” will run Nov. 12-20. Ticket prices are $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and students. The house will open 30 minutes before curtain. Curtain times are 7 p.m. for evening performances and 2 p.m. for matinee performances. Patrons are required to wear masks at all times. Social distancing between parties is recommended.
Tickets are available for advance purchase outside the theater entrance Nov. 8-10 from 5-7 p.m. Tickets are also available on performance dates at the main office entrance from 6-7 p.m. Nov. 12-13 and Nov. 19-20 and from 1-2 p.m. on Nov. 14 and Nov. 20.
Producer-Casey Rush (MDI High School Theater)
Choral Director-Sonia Berghoff
Orchestra Conductor-Christien Breau
Choreography-David Lamon, Don Grieco
Lights/Sound Design/Construction-Grey Burkart
Set Design/construction-Carlene Hirsch
Costume Design/production-Marilee Marchese
Charon- Ryder Haines
Virilla the Amazon- Larissa Zaiser