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Draper Journal

Juan Diego theater students learn perseverance during COVID-19

May 05, 2021 08:49AM ● By Julie Slama

In March, Juan Diego students performed the musical comedy “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”—in face masks. (Photo courtesy of Matthew Hepworth)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Juan Diego Catholic High theater instructor Joe Crnich may not want to repeat fall semester during COVID-19 again.

“We moved ‘As You Like It’ to May as part of the cast was quarantined and when they came back, another group was exposed so they quarantined,” he said. “It just became too much. We moved ‘Matilda’ to the spring, then decided not to do it. It’s too big of a show and too risky.”

They did, however, compete and place well at the 44th annual Utah High School Shakespearean Competition. Senior Anthony Tibolla placed first in monologue, the choir took first in the small Madrigals competition and orchestra took third in the large minstrel contest.

Now, as shows were moved and changed, Juan Diego’s theater schedule is packed this spring.

In March, Juan Diego students performed the musical comedy “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” performed in masks for patrons who also wore face coverings. 

“It went fantastic; it was a fun show, and the kids had a blast,” Crnich said. “We had a good house of about 220 at 25% auditorium capacity and since it was a short, 90-minute show, we could do it without intermission.”

In April, about 15 students will perform a devised piece, “Chasm,” which addresses the national divide in the country with original poetry, songs, imagery and Bible verses.

“We looked at the social unrest, the pandemic, gun violence and then with the insurrection on the 6th (of January), it totally changed its focus into the divide we’re in. The students have researched interviews with the Capitol police and the balance and process it changed afterward,” Crnich said.

The first part of the piece speaks to the country’s division while the second addresses its unity.

This spring, two students also were slated to perform an original one-act, “The Cure,” which they wrote and will direct. Students David Kale and Katelyn Woods created the one-hour play about the trials and tribulations which friends go through as part of their Academy of Fine Arts senior project.

“It’s really well done, and rehearsals are going well,” he said prior to its opening.

After the devised performance in mid-April, Crnich hopes to resume rehearsals of “As You Like It” with an anticipated opening in May in the school’s amphitheater.

“We had five weeks of rehearsals earlier, so we’re hoping we can jump on it as soon as we can and figure out the power and sound in the amphitheater,” he said. “It’s been a good year and the kids have been creative. They’ve learned to persevere through it all.”