By Jason Mount
The remainder of Rider’s School of Fine and Performing Arts (SFPA) mainstage productions have been canceled with the university’s decision to move to remote learning, leaving students in the program with a mix of emotions about the cancellations and the future of distance education.
The precautions taken to avoid the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) resulted in the cancellation of the remaining two performances, “Girls Like That” and “Steel Pier.” Junior acting major Victoria Robles remembered the feeling she and the cast had when Rider first announced its extended spring break.
“There were a lot of mixed feelings,” Robles said. “We had loads of questions that our directors and managers could not answer. Although it was a block in our road, we as a cast were all on the same page when it came to staying on the lighter side of the subject. We tried to be as positive as humanly possible and go to the remainder of our rehearsals.”
Junior technical theater major April Hahn had been preparing for “Girls Like That” since November and was upset to hear that the work of the cast and crew was canceled.
“We had completed costume fittings and were just about to go into tech when the show was canceled. I’m really sad to see it go. The cast and crew had put so much time and love into this show. It would’ve been really great,” Hahn said.
When the announcement was made that Rider would switch to remote learning, Robles remembered thinking it was “heartbreaking.”
“A lot of us were really sad about it, and I couldn’t even imagine what the seniors that were involved were feeling,” Robles said. “It really sucks, especially when you put so much hard work and effort into rehearsals just for no one to see the final product.”
“Girls Like That” was originally intended to run the weekend students came back from the extended spring break. However, with the looming fear that people might not return to Rider, the team behind the show invited faculty members to see the production and what was accomplished thus far.
“It eased the feeling of it never going to be seen by anyone. Although we didn’t get to do the performance, the show itself taught us so many lessons and our cast formed a bond that couldn’t be broken,” Robles said.
The team behind the final mainstage production of the season, “Steel Pier,” also felt sorrow after hearing the announcement.
Junior technical theater major Makenzi Kalsch was the production stage manager for “Steel Pier,” and had been working the show since October. She said that the cast had been trying to get as much work done as they could before it left for break.
“We had a cast meeting in December and then rehearsal for three weeks before spring break,” Kalsch said. “We just tried to block and choreograph as much as we could to try and compensate for that lost week during spring break. We knew it would be hard, but not impossible. We nearly got through all of Act I.”
The cast of “Steel Pier” was prepared to learn that its show would be canceled.
“We had kind of anticipated the move to happen, although we didn’t want it to because it meant our show was canceled,” Kalsch said. “On what became our last night of rehearsal, we all spoke about what we had learned from the production and what we loved about it. Although we’re all very upset that our show was canceled, we understand that these measures needed to be taken. We are all very proud of this show we had put together so far and the bond we had as a group.”
With the mainstage productions canceled, the casts of “Girls Like That” and “Steel Pier” continue their bond through the uncertainties of quarantine and remote learning.