APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – The arts have always had a way of taking our minds off things, and this year is no different. The show must go on.

The students and directors involved with the Center Stage High School Musical Theater Program in Appleton are not letting COVID-19 stop them from celebrating the arts. This year is the program’s fifth anniversary, and administrators aren’t holding anything back. Theatre professionals are hosting a series of virtual workshops from October to June for high school students from 24 schools in northeast Wisconsin.

This year has presented some unique challenges showcasing live theatre from home. With students learning remotely, it creates obstacles for singing in unison. David F. M. Vaughn, an actor, director, writer, and composer, says there is a natural delay. Vaughn led the program’s first workshop of the year, a one-hour Zoom course, all about the audition technique. Six students prepared a song, and Vaughn gave them each techniques on how to nail the audition. He and other administrators have had to go back to the drawing board and experiment with different methods of putting together a series of virtual workshops.

“It’s forced us to be way more creative with how we present theatre. Can we create content beforehand and in this live aspect kind of push play?”

Leland Bartikofsky, a senior at Green Bay Preble high school, has been involved with the Center Stage program for four years. Bartikofsky says he’s excited to be back again for his final year.

“It feels great to be doing it again. It’s been a really amazing four years working with the program.”

Bartikofsky says despite this year being so different than past years, he’s excited for what’s ahead.

“At first it felt like a new challenge, but I am thankful that they’re still trying to match their energy like they did last year.”

The next workshop, focusing on technical theatre, will be held virtually on November 4. For more information on the Center Stage High School Musical Theater program, visit their website.

Participating in the 2020-21 program:

  • Ashwaubenon High School
  • Brillion High School
  • Denmark High School
  • De Pere High School
  • Fond du Lac High School
  • Fox Valley Lutheran High School, Appleton
  • Green Bay East High School
  • Green Bay Preble High School
  • Green Bay Southwest High School
  • Green Bay West High School
  • Hortonville High School
  • Kaukauna High School
  • Laconia High School
  • Little Chute High School
  • Luxemburg-Casco High School
  • Mishicot High School
  • Neenah High School
  • New London High School
  • Pulaski High School
  • St. Mary Catholic High School, Neenah
  • Southern Door County High School
  • Valley Christian School, Oshkosh
  • Weyauwega-Fremont High School
  • Winnebago Lutheran Academy, Fond du Lac

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