‘Shrek The Musical’ cast revels in getting to perform in front of full live audience


Claire Langford

Ethan Saunders (Lord Farquaad) was glad to have some audience members return for last spring’s performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but he was thrilled that the cast could perform in front of a packed auditorium for Shrek.

Every person at Bearden High School has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. For the Bearden theatre department, it prevented a crucial factor in performances – a live audience. 

During last year’s fall musical Sister Act, students were only able to do their final performance on video which was available for purchase. Though the show was still a success, the cast missed having the support of an appreciative audience.

Even when the theatre department was allowed to perform in front of a live audience in the spring for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, there were restrictions that held them back from the feeling of truly performing. 

This year, students were finally able to experience putting on their show, Shrek The Musical, in front of a full live audience.

“Although we did perform in front of an audience last spring for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, that show was masked and had very limited seating,” said Ethan Saunders, who played Lord Farquaad in Shrek The Musical. “The audiences this past weekend were all at least double the size of the largest audience we had last spring.” 

Performers were also able to go on stage unmasked during their scenes, which was an extreme difference from last year. Performers were required to wear a mask on stage even while singing and delivering lines, which was difficult for them. 

“All the time spent during rehearsals wearing masks while the sports teams got to run around mask free made us feel so isolated,” said Izzy Fenech, who played Dragon. “When we finally got told we didn’t have to wear them performing, we were all so relieved to get the equality we deserved. 

“As soon as we got off the stage, we put masks on for COVID safety.” 

Students in theatre were grateful to finally be able to perform with a sense of normalcy after the restrictions of last year. Expectations were set high, and it seems as though the audiences exceeded these expectations. 

“It just made such a huge difference to have real people there,” said Campbell Ella, who played Fiona. “I think that after doing theatre for so long you really come to know the impact that the audience has on the performance itself. 

“If you have a live audience, their energy reflects back on how the show goes.”