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NCHS Actors Tread The Boards Again

NCHS students act
NCHS Theater Program
Normal Community High School tech crews and actors prepare for "All in the Timing" being performed this weekend at the Connie Link Amphitheatre on South Linden Street in Normal.

Theater students at Normal Community High School are eager to perform in person after so much time lost to the pandemic. The spring production (cross your fingers) will be in person, said director Kevin Vernon.

“All In The Timing” will be out of doors April 16-17 at the Connie Link Amphitheater in Normal.

Vernon said sports teams must do things to be safe during the pandemic, and so must theater troupes.

"One of the reasons we picked this show is because it is a series of small one-acts and we can put two and three people on stage at a time in masks and distanced. All the blocking has as much as we can get six feet apart," said Vernon.

Actors on stage at NCHS
Credit NCHS Theater Program / NCHS
NCHS actors Mia Lau (l) and Aashish Thakur (r) prepare for Allin the Timing this weekend at the Connie Link Amphitheatre on South Linden.

Preparations for the show have come amid an overall surge of coronavirus cases with the largest portion among young people. Vernon said they hope the numbers remain low enough to allow the actors to work in person, but that's up to the Unit 5 school district and the state. She said they have had some students quarantine because of direct contacts.

Vernon noted the audience will have to stick to individual seating zones and wear masks.

“It doesn't have to be perfect or the most spectacular, but it means a lot to the seniors to do live theater,” said Vernon.

After more than a year without an in-person production, Vernon said the absence has lent new flavor to the work on stage.

"I think I have a greater appreciation for the role an audience plays. I have always taught that it's not theater unless there is an audience. We can create a lot of things, but the audience is an active participant and it means so much more. Frankly, it’s the backbone of what the art is. It's communication. It's an expression of whatever humanity is,” said Vernon.

She said the production feels more momentous and important right now.

"It's almost an identity. It's that perpetual search for who you are, and these people are a theater company," said Vernon.

Students have a heightened emotional experience because of the lag, said Vernon. Techies began rehearsals with props already built and actors came with lines already memorized. She said they look happy again.

“Home gets mentioned a lot. Family gets mentioned a lot, as in your extended family. They really appreciate the fact that what they do is important is special is worthwhile and how much they enjoy it,” said Vernon.

Admission is to the show is free, although limited, and the theater department will be accepting donations.


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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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