I have been involved in the O’Hara Theatre Program since my freshman year four years ago. It is where I have met most of my best friends, have spent countless hours of my time, and have made the absolute best memories.
When the pandemic hit in March of last year, I was absolutely devastated. We were a week away from opening Godspell, and had worked so incredibly hard to make it the best show possible. Like most people this past year, I was overwhelmed with many emotions. I was angry, sad, and most of all frightened about the unknown. We didn’t know when or if we would ever be able to perform that show. Sadly, we never got to, and I still feel terribly for the seniors who did not get to perform their last show.
When it was announced last fall that we would be doing The Music Man, I frankly didn’t know how to feel. How could we possibly pull off doing a show in the middle of a global pandemic? Where would we do it? How would we hold rehearsals? Mr. Brac and Mrs. Mooney assured us that the show would not be the exact same as years past, but that they would do their very best to make it feel as normal as possible while following all safety precautions.
After auditions, I was given the absolute honor to play the role of Marian Paroo. Like Marian, I am not someone always open to change. I think it is something that a lot of us struggle with. We want things to “be like last year” and keep traditions that have been in place for so long. However, if I have learned one thing from this past year, it is that change can be good. Yes, there can be downsides, but sometimes it is for the better. In the show, Marian transforms from a stuck-up librarian to an appreciative young woman who is able to see the good in others. This show changed my perspective on this year. Instead of focusing on what I have lost and what “isn’t the same,” I am now looking forward to new opportunities being created and focusing on what I do have.
On opening night, I was so overwhelmed with love and nostalgia and just plain happiness. Hearing the sounds of an audience clapping and laughing is something that I did not know I could miss so much. Performing under the bright lights while hearing the orchestra playing, and being backstage alongside the people that I love most was probably the highlight of my senior year so far. It was so good to be back and it was the perfect way to end my time in the theatre program.
The Music Man was the first thing that has felt normal to me in this unprecedented year. I was able to spend time with my best friends and laugh and joke around at rehearsals. We were able to wear the most amazing costumes while telling such an incredible story. Most of all, we were able to do what show kids do best: dance, act, and sing our hearts out on that beautiful stage.
And we did all of that safely and with masks on! It was truly amazing what we were able to accomplish despite the many obstacles we endured. I think this show was something that we all needed. It was a reassurance and a glimmer of hope for the future. We showed our O’Hara family, our community, and honestly, the world, that life is going to be okay, and we can still find joy in doing what we love.
I cannot express enough gratitude for Mr. Brac and Mrs. Mooney for what they have done for us this year. They put their hearts and souls into this production. Even when it looked like the show may not happen, I had the utmost confidence that no matter what, it would happen in some way, shape, or form solely because of their dedication. I thank them for giving us all this incredible experience, and for defying the negativity that has been so prevalent this past year. My past four years in this program have been so special and memorable, and theatre is something I plan to continue in college because of the love for the arts that O’Hara has given me.
Written by: Maureen O’Reilly ’21