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Tampa middle school theater program puts on first play since pandemic

Posted at 5:12 PM, Oct 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-22 18:16:23-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Temperature checks as you arrive, an outdoor stage set up on a socially distanced field and a mask-wearing audience is the theater in the age of COVID-19.

Performers are also separated by clear protective shields.

“I didn’t know what it was going to look like. I didn’t know how they put the stage together in the first place," said eighth-grader Anna Butts.

The kids from Corbett Prep’s Thespian Troupe are performing "The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon."

“Last year, I could never believe that I would be wearing a dress during a pandemic, performing in front of class. But here I am doing it today," said eighth-grader Ronak Mehta.

It’s their first time back on stage since February.

“I just feel so wonderful we were able to do it," said Butts.

The show even features a COVID clean-up crew.

“The first professional production was Godspell that happened up in Connecticut. And they had these periaktos with Plexiglass shields and they were working with the masks and taking them on and off. And I saw that and I said there’s the model," said theater director Seth Travaglino.

Thursday's performance was in front of fellow students, and it’s not always easy to tell how they are reacting behind those masks.

“Sometimes it feels like we have a dead audience and we can’t hear anything. But other times they are so lively. We really connect with them," said Butts.

This school takes the theater very seriously. But during a time when so many could use a laugh, the kids deliver.

“Sometimes we need to have this heartfelt thing that changes our lives. But sometimes we just need to laugh. So it was time to just laugh," said Travaglino.

Ticket information from Corbett Prep:

Seating arrangements are based on the layout Corbett Prep used for eighth-grade graduation in May. Families can purchase a "box" on the field with up to 4 seats inside. Boxes are 8 feet long and 6 feet away from other family boxes. All tickets must be purchased in advance.

Audience members who would prefer to watch from home may purchase virtual tickets in advance, which will give them access to a live viewing of the Friday or Saturday performances.

Tickets for the in-person and virtual shows are available online. Families should purchase tickets through Eventbrite for the in-person show and use "Broadway on Demand" for the virtual performances. Please double check you

Friday, Oct. 23

Saturday, Oct. 24