The coronavirus put an abrupt end to countless events. Many were months in the making.
But few came to a more crushing close than “Seussical: The Musical.”
Over 100 Staples Players cast and crew members prepared for the spring production since December. Just 2 days before opening night, Westport schools closed.
Sets, choreography, lighting, music — poof! It all vanished, into the infectious air.
Fortunately, Players videotaped the Tuesday night rehearsal show, performed before an audience of 100 parents.
Tomorrow (Saturday, April 4, 7 p.m.) and Sunday (April 5, 2 p.m.), Players will broadcast that now-historic recording.
Anyone who bought tickets to any of the scheduled performances will receive an email link on Saturday to the livestreams. Intermission features special video appearances by former Players, all now involved in the arts.
But — in typically creative Players fashion — you don’t have to have had a ticket to see this “Seussical.”
The organization set up a GoFundMe page. Though a few staff stipends are paid by the town, the rest of the award-winning program is funded almost entirely by ticket sales.
They pay for lumber, paint, lighting equipment purchase and rental, costume construction and rental, props, set designers, sound equipment and microphone rental, pit musicians’ salaries, makeup, wigs — and much, much more.
An average show — though Players are far from “average” — costs well over $50,000 to produce.
That’s a lot of money. But it’s also an amazing educational experience for hundreds of Staples students. Plus of course, a wonderful treat for the community.
Players has been on solid financial ground for over 15 years. Because of sellout audiences and great support from Westporters, they consistently recouped the money they spent. They seldom ask much financially from the community.
Now — having lost the opportunity both to produce “Seussical,” and benefit financially from it — they’re asking for help.
The Players know: “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
This weekend, we can smile along with them. How lucky we all are that the one performance happened.
(Want a special “Seussical” preview? Click here!)
Thank you so much for posting, Dan! Seussical is a fun, happy show with a terrific message of self-acceptance, loyalty and love. We are so excited to join families across Westport – and the world – to watch Seussical stream on Saturday night and support the incredible Staples Players program. Many many thanks to David Roth, Kerry Long Roth, Sam Laskin and everyone involved in creating this event.
Hopefully none of the Players or the audience at the taping have since succumbed to COVID-19. It seems like just yesterday that the head of the Players was pleading for the show not to be cancelled, blissfully unaware of what was going on with the spread of the virus in Westport and the wave of case that was about to hit.
Hope Westport supports this. They worked quite hard on it.
Mr. Strittmatter – Thanks so much for your concern. This dress rehearsal took place weeks ago and was filmed BEFORE school was cancelled in Westport. There were only 50 parents permitted inside the cavernous 1000 seat auditorium to watch it so social distancing was not challenging to achieve. They – the students and the adults involved in directing, choreography, set design/production, costumes, props and musical – did work so hard. I hope you enjoy the show!
Indeed, it was all before any of us knew the extent of what was about to hit us. Reading comments at the time, there were still plenty of folks that thought coronavirus would be a non-event. A simpler time when we thought wiping down the armrests between shows would be adequate to protect us.
By the way, your latest comment resulted in a bit of dissonance for me. You note that only 50 parents were in the audience, however I recalled Dan’s reporting was that 100 parents were in the audience and, sure enough, that is what article says. Odd we keep having conflicting reports on attendance numbers at Westport events.
Also made me think about timing. If this was taped the Tuesday evening before the show was supposed to open (i.e. Tuesday March 10th), it was already after the show had already been cancelled earlier in the day after advice from the Governor on the 9th to limit gatherings to 100 or less. Over 100 cast and crew and 100 (or even 50) parents were there? Maybe it was the week before…
Tone can be hard to convey through electronic comments but you seem to be suggesting some sort of nefarious intent to hide facts. What a strange response to a blog post about our local high school theatre company trying to encourage the community to tune in on Saturday night and support next year’s programming. In case you didn’t realize it, the students (the Staples Players) who have dedicated most of their free time since January to the production of this show are reading your comments.
This dress rehearsal was in fact filmed BEFORE school was cancelled. This is a statement of fact easily verified if for some reason you continue to doubt this to be true.
There were 46 actors on stage. The only tech crews present were two or three students up on the catwalk and those secluded in the totally enclosed booth in the rear of the theatre. While over 100 students work on the show, this refers to the tremendous work months before on costumes, props, set design, set production, public relations, etc. not to the number of students present in the auditorium during the show. It truly does take a village…in advance of the show itself.
Up to 100 attendees were permitted to attend the dress rehearsal, however, due to the last minute nature of the invite that same afternoon, many parents who signed up to attend (my husband, for example) were unable to make it back to Westport on time. Pretty tough to leave the city for a 5pm performance in Westport when you only learn about it at 3:30pm. This was no one’s fault, just the way timing worked out. I feel so fortunate to have been able to watch the dress rehearsal with the other parents that could make it that evening so I’m commenting as someone who was actually present that night.
I’ve emailed Dan to feel free to share my email address with you. I’m happy to address any other concerns you have about the show or specific questions about the dress rehearsal that was filmed. Again, please keep in mind that the students who dedicated their every free moment since January to creating and acting in this show are reading your comments. And please do donate to the GoFundMe if you are able to help support the continuation of the terrific Staples Players program.
Looking forward to watching this show. Great for adults and children alike!
Thanks for posting this, Dan! Nobody does social distancing like Horton and Jojo! This is a show of hope and love and I can’t wait to see it again.
Thank you Dan. Looking forward to seeing the show tonight….and while it may feel like it, we are not alone in the universe!