The Collegian
Thursday, February 22, 2024

Student-led theater production postponed after rise in COVID-19 cases among cast

<p>University of Richmond's&nbsp;Modlin Center for the Arts.</p>

University of Richmond's Modlin Center for the Arts.

Students in the University of Richmond theater program “New Faces” were excited to show off the progress they had made during the first couple of weeks of the semester. That was until members of the cast started testing positive for COVID-19 and the show was postponed indefinitely.

Senior Emma Sloane, the stage manager of the show, said that when cast members started to feel unwell and one student tested positive, the directors canceled the show planned for Friday, Sept. 2.

Sloane has been a part of New Faces for four years — acting, directing and now working behind the scenes.

“It’s a strong tradition in theater at UR,” Sloane said. “It’s the first show we do each year, and it’s a really important introduction for new students.”

The show is run by students. The directors and producer begin plans during the summer and typically host auditions during the first weekend of the fall semester, Sloane said. 

After another student in the cast started to not feel well, the cast, crew and directors all tested to confirm if they had COVID-19. 

“Safety is our priority,” said senior Joan Zhao, the producer of the show. “We want to keep everyone in the cast, crew and audience safe.”

Two students tested positive before the show was postponed indefinitely.  

“We needed to rework the show, but when the second person tested positive, we didn’t have enough time [to reschedule],” Sloane said. 

Both Sloane and Zhao said the executive members of Alpha Psi Omega, the theater honor society at UR, want to reschedule the show to another time during the school year.

“We hope that once COVID-19 is less serious, we will be able to bring the cast back together,” Zhao said.

The executive team for Alpha Psi Omega has not said when or if the show will be rescheduled. 

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Sophomore Anna Phillips, co-music director of the show, said there were students spanning all four years in the now postponed show. 

“It is the best way to become a part of theater at Richmond if you haven’t been a part of it before,” she said.

The show has two group musical numbers, a few singing duets between scenes and an interpretive dance directed by upperclassmen and overseen by Alpha Psi Omega, Phillips said.

First-year Ian Murphy was part of two scenes and the opening and closing musical numbers, he said.

“One [scene] was about two people doing improvisation and they had to do 36 shows,” he said. “It was pretty much just fast-paced comedy. The other was about a family struggling with addiction during Nancy Regan’s ‘Say No to Drugs’ campaign.”

First-year Andres Mauco said the show was not a play, but a mashup of different scenes.

“I don’t think it was necessarily meant to show off technical talent, but instead our dedication to the theater because we only had a week of rehearsals,” Mauco said.

Zhao said each director followed the theme of “this is me.”

“Each student director had the freedom to create scenes about something they care about or an aspect of themselves they wanted to highlight,” Zhao said.

First-year Gurbani Makar said she did the show because she wanted to get better at public speaking.

“Singing is not really something I really like doing, but I want to act like this again,” Makar said.

While many of the cast members were disappointed the show was canceled, they were thankful for the opportunity.

“Even though it was canceled, the opportunity to get to know everyone in a laid-back sense was still worth the effort we put in,” Murphy said.

Contact news writer Amy Jablonski at

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