The Show Must Go Online: Variety Show advisors, directors announce plan for virtual show

Though the coronavirus pandemic will make it impossible to hold a traditional Variety Show, the leadership wants to produce a “Variety Show movie” with pre-recorded clips of skits and speciality acts

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Emmet Jamieson

The Variety Show’s leadership plans to use Canvas to communicate information about the show.

The advisors and directors of the Variety Show met Thursday over Zoom with the senior class to detail their plans for a virtual Variety Show.

Due to the cancellation of the 2019-2020 school year and current social distancing guidelines designed to combat the coronavirus pandemic, the Variety Show cannot take place in its traditional form this year. The advisors and directors decided they still wanted to hold the show, and advisor Heather Good said at the meeting that it would come in the form of a “Variety Show movie” with pre-recorded clips of skits and speciality acts. The virtual show will still feature the current skits and speciality acts, it will still have an opening and closing and emcees will still provide segues between scenes. Good said the Variety Show’s leadership wants to complete the movie by the end of May and then post it online.

Director Grace Hall said skits will become a series of clips edited together instead of a single live performance. She said she and the rest of the leadership are editing scripts to work in this format, and she added they are also open to any new ideas for scripts as well.

Good said seniors doing solo speciality acts can record themselves performing, but those in group acts will have to improvise. Some group acts might still be able to happen; for example, the senior members of the band were going to perform a piece together at the show, and though they cannot assemble in-person, PAHS secretary Patti Fallara said they can still get their instruments if they come to the high school and tell her their instrument’s cage number.

However, advisor Alicia Weaver said because students cannot get together to perform group skits and speciality acts, the leadership is altering them. She added that the goal was to make them mesh with the virtual medium, not to change them.

“We’re not trying to rewrite everything and redo everything,” Weaver said. “We’re just trying to accommodate it or modify it to make it fit this format. So your skit or your song is still going to be a part of that, but maybe not in the exact same way it was.”

The Variety Show’s committees will also face changes in the transition to a virtual show. Weaver said the fudge committee, the usher committee and the makeup committee are “pretty much done,” while the art committee might be able to contribute individual artwork. Weaver said people in those committees who are frustrated with this turn of events could consider helping the program committee instead.

Before school closed, the program committee was responsible for selling ads to family, friends, faculty and businesses in Punxsutawney. Program committee director Susan Lainey said the committee had raised over $7,000 in ads from 13 friends and family members, 18 faculty members and 115 local businesses.

The virtual show will still have a program — Good said it will come as a PDF attachment to the movie. Lainey said PAHS principal Jeff Long did not want the committee to sell more ads for the program, but before the committee can publish the ads it has, Long wants it to verify whether donors still wanted to contribute to the new show. Lainey said members of the program committee will have to contact each of the donors to ask for confirmation.

However, many of these plans for the show are not yet set in stone, Hall said.

“We don’t have the answers for everything right now,” she said. “It’s coming together as we go. But with any ideas you guys have, feel free to contact us. We’re open to anything.”

Good said she wants to get preparations for the show “up and running” next week. Hall said the Virtual Variety Show Canvas page will act as the main avenue of communication, and Good said she posted a discussion board there for students to ask questions publicly. She added that she will post a survey soon to canvass seniors’ thoughts on the show — and to determine whether enough people still want to get involved.

Weaver said the coronavirus pandemic “ripped off” seniors, and she added that even though working with the virtual format might be awkward and uncomfortable, the class needs to work hard and work together if they want their show to succeed.

“Just like we said when we were in school when we did our first assembly, this is your show and it’s about you,” Weaver said. “It won’t work if you guys walk away like, ‘Forget about it, I’m not interested, it sounds like a lot of work.’ You’re gonna have to step up a little bit out of your comfort zone. Let’s rally together and figure out a way to make this work.”