The March 19 performance of . took place in the Pocantico Hills School auditorium, but instead of on stage, cast members were spaced around the edges of the empty audience seats. Each stood in front of a tablet atop a music stand that had been adjusted for her height, so her head and torso would appear on screen.
After nearly two months of rehearsals, it was time to film a Zoomsical of Annie JR. Twelve of the 14 middle school girls in the show were in person, and two remote learners took part from home.
Pocantico had prepared for the possibility that a live performance of the spring musical might not be possible this year. “Over the summer, we went to a Zoom training on what they called a Zoomsical, so a Zoom musical,” said first-grade teacher Ariane Berns, who co-directed the show with first- and second-grade teacher Allison O’Connor. “They taught us little tricks that you can use on Zoom, like how to use the four corners of the Zoom box as your stage.”
Instrumental music teacher Michael Murray and two student assistants had spent the morning recording audio of the actors’ songs. After lunch, cast members changed into their costumes. English teacher Andrew Irons had set up the tablets and ensured they had the appropriate backgrounds, such as the New York City skyline.
Eighth-grader Dina Marie Preiser – who plays Miss Hannigan, head of the orphanage – initially was not interested in participating. “This is actually my mom’s favorite movie, so I decided to get into it for her,” Dina said. “And then once we were doing rehearsals, it was getting really fun and I’m glad that I did it.”
“Even if it’s remote, it’s still something to actually have to do instead of just staying in your house and sitting around watching TV,” said Eighth-grader Maggie Kearney, who plays Annie.