The world hasn’t stopped changing since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March. But as we all learn from an early age, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. This is exactly what the Saugatuck Drama Club do. When the school’s production of “The Little Mermaid” was canceled in March due to the pandemic, the group came together with the innovative idea of creating a film that would then be shown to families and friends.
The show was scheduled to premiere on March 12; however, the club was notified of the show’s cancellation the night before. Director Katie Bloom was proud of her students but devastated by the cancellation of the production.
“There were tears from both students, parents and staff. After months of hard work, our beautiful show came to a screeching halt just short of the finish line,” Bloom said. “I promised them we would get together again and put on the show they deserved, the show they deserved.”
A few parents got to watch the show that night as the club’s final rehearsal turned into their final performance. Bloom and the producers zealously applauded the students, and some parents were able to shoot a video on their cell phones, capturing the result of their children’s hard work.
When The Remarkable Theater, a COVID-safe drive-in cinema, opened in Westport over the summer, Bloom had an idea. The play would be filmed as a movie that would premiere at the Remarkable Theater on October 18.
There were tears from both students, parents and staff. After months of hard work, our beautiful show came to a screeching halt just before the finish line. I promised them we would get together again and put on the show they deserved, the show they deserved.
In August, the students recorded audios of their lines at home with the help of producers via zoom calls. They used a mix of iPhone footage from the March parent and refilmed some scenes while safely gathering in garages with a green screen backdrop.
Wearing masks, social distancing and working with new technologies made the process difficult for all students, producers, directors and parents. Bloom explained how this process was especially difficult for students, as the energy created when performing on stage is nearly impossible to replicate by gluing videos together.
“They work on their actors’ energy and their timing, so parts of the dialogue had to be slowed down to fit together,” Bloom said. “I’m used to being able to direct them in person and make suggestions on the spot. The children really needed to be motivated and to remember everything we had done during rehearsals.
Sixth grader Sally Nathan, who played Ariel on the show, was very upset about the cancellation of March and was originally not thrilled to take part in her elementary school play when she is entrance to college.
“I was upset that I didn’t get to play in front of my family and friends,” Nathan said. “But, after seeing how well they put the film together, I was glad I got a second chance to do it.”