Welcome return of high school musicals

COVID-19 hit all of us hard, but probably nothing was as adversely affected as the high school musical. Not only was it unsafe for kids to gather to sing and rehearse…the productions themselves were a communal gathering and, as with all such gatherings, were stopped or greatly restricted.

So it was with great joy that we recently attended the musical recently produced at Southwestern High School. We were in an auditorium full of other grandparents and family members watching our grandson perform as part of a large cast of talented kids. (Our granddaughter is also preparing for a musical at her school later in the Spring.)

My immediate reaction was to think of how lucky I was to be viewing such a wonderful show full of exceptional actors and singers all of whom were obviously excited about performing.

Not only was the show good, but I thought the choreography, scenery and the quality of the accompanying orchestra was top notch.

It also “hit” me during the performance of how much was missed in school during those two years of COVID shut-down. I felt sorry for the kids impacted then who were not able to display and practice their talents during that time.

One of the strengths of the public school system around here is that it usually includes a multitude of programs to support the book-learning side of education. Sports programs tend to dominate, but there are also young people who excel in music and the arts. Their talents need to be given an outlet–which is why there is usually a band, orchestra, chorus and an annual school musical.

In the case of the musical we attended, though the lead singers and actors were high schoolers–participants from the middle school were also given supporting roles. What was on display was the comradery between a variety of age groups all working together over many weeks to produce a delightful and inspiring evening of entertainment for their friends and families.

Who knows? Some of these kids could end up on Broadway. (Remember, Lucille Ball grew up around here, and this is how she got started!) Most of them though will go on to other jobs and occupations, yet look back fondly and remember the school musical as an important part of their maturing and growing up. I expect that all of them will maintain an interest in music and the theater for the rest of their lives.

We often read of the shortcomings in the public school system, of its cost and the way it is structured. However, the end product that it produces is what counts in the long run.

I left the musical production that night feeling upbeat and heartened by what I saw. Good things are happening in the public schools of our country, and my night “out on the town” at the school musical reflected that.

My “hat is off” to the students, teachers, singers, musicians — and all who made it happen!

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident and a former New York state Assemblyman.


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