Iconic drama masks wearing surgical masks. The performing arts departments at Franklin High School were shut down due to COVID-19 but now they are back and ready to put on some shows!  Illustration by Everette Cogswell

Over the years Franklin has put on many outstanding productions both in theater and in dance. From the Winter Dance Showcase, to Arts Alive, and various plays and musicals, Franklin performing arts events are always looked forward to by many. After facing over a year indoors, members of the Franklin community are eager to get back in the auditorium to enjoy some amazing performances. Here’s what to expect from Franklin dance and theatre this school year.

On December 10 and 11, Dance at Franklin will be holding the first Winter Dance Showcase since 2019. “It was extremely ambitious in 2019 […] and we’ve never done anything like that [show] before, and in hindsight I’m glad we did, because we got shut down,” says Sonia Kellermann, head of Dance at Franklin. Kellermann said there were 19 separate elements of choreography which made for a very large production. “There are certain limitations this year that we’ve been working under, but I feel like I’m happy with the fact that this year we’ve spent a ton of time on technique, and less time on choreo,” says Kellermann. In the spring, Franklin performing arts programs such as Dance at Franklin, Franklin Choir, and students with individual interests, will be putting on Arts Alive. The show includes a wide variety of categories such as: dance, slam poetry, singing, story telling, music, and many other amazing talents.

This spring, the Franklin Theater Department will be putting on The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, a Broadway musical that is about, you guessed it, a spelling bee. “One of the challenges that we are under at this particular moment is that right now we are going to be wearing masks,” says Josh Forsythe, head of the theatre department at Franklin. It has been difficult for the drama community to adapt to masks, and while there have been many different techniques used to make mask wearing seem less noticeable, there has yet to be the perfect solution. Although the theatre community has been struggling to adapt, Forsythe says, “Due to the improvisational nature of the story, [the troupe] can make up dialogue based on the circumstances of how you are presenting the show, so we may have to add some lines that say, ‘sorry we have to continue wearing masks, but we are doing the spelling bee during a pandemic this year.’” After the musical, Forsythe plans to do one more play. While it’s still unknown what it may be, there are some ideas in the works.

While it’s very exciting to have shows back up and running, there is still the question of how they will manage to keep audiences safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Proof of vaccination, or proof of a negative covid test within 72 hours, is all you need to get in. As long as everyone is masked up, there can be a full house. 

I feel I speak for many when I say it feels refreshing to have these shows back after a long period of unknown during the pandemic and it will be very interesting to see how these different performances adapt to the challenges we are currently facing. Be sure to get your tickets to the Winter Dance Showcase and be prepared for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, which opens March 4.

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