Teacher creates two socially distanced musicals for her students: ‘When I’m on stage, everything goes away’

Local News

LANCASTER, N.Y. (WIVB) — In a normal year, many schools would be putting on their Spring musicals in the coming weeks. But due to the circumstances, many students were forced to miss out on performing this year.

But that’s not the case at Lancaster Middle School thanks to the school’s music teacher, Marybeth Conlon.

Back in the Fall, Ms. Conlon created a written plan in order to get her students back on stage. She realized with social distancing, only 24 kids would fit on stage. So, to ensure no one was left out, she put together two musicals.

“These are two junior shows, about one hour each,” Conlon said.

Rowen Argo was chosen as the lead female role for the production ‘Into the Woods,’ and Kaylie Jackson was chosen as the lead for ‘Once on this Island.’

“The musical is the highlight of my year… it’s always been,” Argo said.

The students learned their vocals and figured out where they were supposed to be on stage all from home.

“I had these little toys… I had them on my desk and was like, ‘You guys are going to walk this way,'” Conlon said.

The students got special clear masks for singing, but guidelines force singers to be at least 12 feet apart. So, every student recorded their parts and the audio was edited together. A production team then came to the school to film the musicals and the students lip synced over their pre-recorded lines.

Both musicals will be posted onto Youtube in the coming weeks.

“Usually the hallways here are so loud and the kids are so excited and the cafeteria you can’t even hear anything… and it was silence here, and it seemed so strange,” Conlon said. “You kind of saw the light was taken out of the kids’ eyes a little bit.”

But thanks to a music teacher and a whole lot of work, noise came back to these school walls and the light came back to many students’ eyes.

“They (musicals) always make me feel in a happier place,” Jackson said. “Especially with COVID and everything, when I’m on stage, everything goes away and I just play my character.”

Kelsey Anderson is an award-winning anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of her work here.

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