Seniors know it’s a bittersweet ending for all, not having had the full school experience while in a global pandemic. However this year is especially odd for the theater department. It’s the first year the school has done a musical in the spring since the early years of West, and two seniors said it’s the best way to go out.
Not only has COVID caused the department to switch the musical and play around, but it narrowed the seating availability from 850 to 144, with seats being in pairs of two, and six feet apart. It has also forced the cast into wearing masks while performing. A couple seniors said they are grateful to perform one last time, though they wish they could have a full crowd.
Director of “Grease,” the upcoming musical, theater teacher Brad Rackers said he knows the transition shouldn’t interfere with the cast and crew too much. “This senior class is very resilient and had to survive. A group of very dedicated and hard working students. Always trying to get better and make the best show possible,” Rackers said.
Seniors Max Twogood and Connor Kelly-Wright said they hope they get a chance to leave a bigger mark than just being known as the class who graduated during a pandemic. The pair have been doing theater for the past four years and credit one another with a big part in each other’s success. Kelly-Wright who plays the lead, Danny Zuko said he believes this show would be a monumental moment in his life.
Kelly-Wright said he feels as if the cast is living through the characters because of the characters’ ages. Meanwhile Twogood, who plays Kenickie, said he’s been looking forward to leaving West with another show under his belt. Twogood said, “This show will be so special, up on stage with my best friends for one last time at Lee’s Summit West.”
Over the past four years, Kelly-Wright and Twogood said combined they have been in over 60 shows including seven musicals. They said they have had a lot of memories during their time at West. Kelly-Wright said he hopes his best one will be making “Grease.” Twogood said he believes that he’ll remember this show having to wear a mask during the show, singing, dancing and all.
Many of the underclassmen have been mentored and became good friends with the seniors, and Kelly-Wright said that’s what he believes is so special about the West theater department. He said “Theatre is a family,” and students such as freshman Benjamin Bruner agree.
Bruner said he has become good friends with a lot of people in theater, especially Kelly-Wright. “Connor Kelly-Wright has made theatre a second family to me.”
According to Twogood, Kelly-Wright has also helped him grow as a performer, and is confident he will be a great lead. Twogood said, “[He] is literally flawless, and has and will continue to keep pushing me to become better in theatre.” Now, the cast and crew work together to put on the show after lots of excitement.
Within hours of going on sale to the public, the musical successfully sold out every single show. Seats went for $20 each and guests must wear masks throughout the entire viewing. “Grease” will premiere on April 16 at 7 p.m.