The Process and Success of the Priory Musical: “Camelot”

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Nicholas Parafiniuk

Every winter trimester around exam week, Priory students put on a winter musical. Under the guidance of the new Director and Fine Arts Department Chair, Dr. Erwin, Priory students performed Camelot, a musical about the legend of King Arthur. Due to COVID-19, many theaters have been closed for movies and live performances. Priory is lucky to have been one of the first schools to allow a live audience for their production. For many in the audience, this was the first time they were able to go to a theater in nearly a year. 

When watching a live production of any musical or play, I will admit that I often forget about the time and effort that each performance takes and the months of planning that go into the show. Planning for Camelot began months before auditions in November. Dr. Erwin cleaned out the upstairs loft and storage spaces with all our props and costumes as well as began planning out a set for the musical in the summer. After auditions and casting in mid-November, the cast began meeting in person on Sundays in December. When students returned to campus full-time in January, the cast of Camelot hit the ground running with after school and Sunday rehearsals. 

By late January, the whole show had been staged and the cast began running the show. Due to the fact that our rehearsal schedule was cut by a month in December because of online school, we were running behind at this point, but it was up to the cast and crew to come together in order to make this show a success. With rehearsal for over 25-30 hours per week, the cast and crew became a family. Some in the cast began joking about wearing masks at home because it felt like we were spending more time together than with our own families. After many hours of rehearsal and running the show, the cast and crew were able to pull off eight successful shows that were fun for everyone involved. I was able to ask some cast members about their thoughts about the show and here are a couple of their responses:

Senior Andrew Lloyd, who played Sir Lionel, said “The best part of the show is sitting there on opening night and looking back to the first day of rehearsal. Looking at how much we’ve grown as individuals and as a cast, and truly creating a story is what makes the hours of practices worth it.”

Lily Kinnison, Cor Jesu Senior and four year Priory musical cast member, who played Guinevere said, “Putting on a show during COVID is a difficult feat, but the process was very fruitful for everyone involved. It’s been a long time since we have gotten to perform, and though changes had to be made, it was thrilling to be back onstage doing such a beloved show.” In regards to the process Lily added, “I love doing Priory shows because the cast functions as a unit. It’s rare to be in a show where everyone is friends with each other, but the Priory shows are so unique in this way. My favorite part of the process was probably the first week of February when we rehearsed until 7:30 each night. During that week, we got to spend a LOT of time with each other, form a ton of inside jokes, and the show really started to come together.” 

Dr. Erwin is a master of plot, set design, and pyrotechnics. As he always says, “the story is the most important part of any show.” With Camelot, he really pushed the cast to examine the plot and quite literally “read between the lines.” 

On behalf of the cast of Camelot, we would like to thank all that came to see Camelot! Thank you to the school administration for allowing us to have a live audience because an audience truly makes a difference. Thank you to all the Seniors who helped make this an amazing show filled with everlasting memories. Most of all, thank you to Dr. Erwin for your awesome direction which helped us electrify the theater.