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WC continues rich theatre tradition despite new challenges

Worthington Christian School has a long, rich history of having a top-notch theatre program. Under the direction of David O’Roark for the last 19 years, the program has expanded to producing four shows per year, providing dozens of students in grades six through 12 with the opportunity to participate. But that came to a halt this spring.

Just like so much of our lives, the performing arts industry has been heavily impacted by COVID-19. Broadway has been completely shut down for months. Local community theatres have had to close their doors for the time being. The spring production for WC’s theatre department was cancelled. So as plans to return to school developed over the summer, the future of school theatre was undetermined.

On August 21 of this year, Governor DeWine announced guidelines for performing arts theatres. O’Roark was relieved and excited to learn that WC could, in fact, hold shows. Just as in years past, there will be four theatre productions at WC this year, and WC will once again participate in the CAPA Marquee Awards with 21 other area high school theatre departments. But there will be noticeable modifications.

O’Roark has selected plays with small casts of eight to 10 students. Their in-person rehearsals have been less frequent than in the past, maintaining physical distant and masking when possible. Only 60 seats will be available in the auditorium for each performance, reserved in large part for cast members’ families. Two of the four productions, Charlie Brown and A Year with Frog and Toad are especially family-friendly, and O’Roark hopes that a streaming option will be available to expand the audience to the virtual realm (which largely depends on copyright permission).

This year’s first production will hit the stage on October 7 and run for four performances over that weekend. Based on a 1974 book by the same name, “Working” is a project that celebrates people that don’t normally get celebrated: everyday workers. With music written by various composers, including James Taylor and Lin Manuel-Miranda, the show features an array of styles and sounds. O’Roark chose this show in part because it is a positive emotional experience.

In a time when there are limited opportunities to participate in activities or take part in entertainment events, O’Roark feels that theatre can be especially impactful. He explains, “Theatre provides an opportunity for people to come together, get drawn into a story, and come away saying, ‘Wasn’t that great?’” WC has many talented singers and actors. Providing students with a chance to hone these skills and to be involved in something after months of being at home is important, O’Roark asserts. “Theatre is largely about working with others and creating something with others that couldn’t be accomplished individually.”

Cast members in photo:

Back row, left to right: Amina Niehoff, Isaac Myhal, Edward Gamel, Tucker O’Roark, Sam Johnson, Sydney Garner, Mia Schoonover, Wyatt Kern, Nick Duchene,
Front row, left to right: Faith Kline, Lily Lamperyk, Rachel Han, Sophie Henderson, Danner Brown, Emma Reale, Madison Hoffman, Sabina Niehoff

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