STILL A 'MADRIGAL' TIME OF YEAR

It is going to look a little different this year – but Cane Bay High choir students all seem to agree that this year’s Madrigal Dinner is going to be one to remember.

The Madrigal Dinners in the past were a Renaissance-themed dinner show held at Cane Bay High and featured the school’s award-winning choir students. This annual event has been known for kicking off the holiday season at Cane Bay High, and has been going on for more than 10 years.

With the ongoing pandemic, the choir has opted to instead feature their performance in a video that will be livestreamed for a standalone event on Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. The show will also be available for a 48-hour rental from Dec. 19 to Jan. 3. Tickets are $25 and are available on the Cane Bay Choirs website.

The students work under the direction of William Bennett, director of choirs at Cane Bay High.

“I could not be more proud of a group of students honestly,” Bennett said. “It was a long process with lots of regulations as far as wearing masks and staying separated and we couldn’t do a lot of the normal things we do in the show, but the kids really, really rose to the challenge.”

This year’s play is called “Billie and Theodora’s Shakespearean Adventure”. The character Theodora has a report due for her English class and has to travel back in time to find Hamlet for an interview, but gets stuck in a bunch of other William Shakespeare plays.

This year’s performance includes 12th-grader Robert Bare, who plays the King; 12th-grader Mariann Fisher, who plays Elizabeth and co-wrote the script; 12th-grader Lilie Kyger, who also co-wrote the script; 12th-grader Anna Brown, who plays the Queen; 12th-grader J’ylen Johnson, who plays “Billie”; and 11th-grader Mikaela Haught, who plays Theodora.

Kyger and Fisher started on the script before the shutdown in March. They had “rough cut” ideas of what they wanted to do, and a way they wanted it played out in person. When they found they could record the performance on a virtual platform, they were able to rework everything to make it work.

“I wanted to keep the tradition alive and I still wanted to be able to give families…the show that they love so much, in whatever platform,” Kyger said.

They were even able to work the pandemic into the script; the characters from the present travel back in time donning masks, and a courtier in the Shakespearean era remarks, “Oh, you have your plague masks on.”

Bare, a seasoned veteran with chorus and Madrigals, said while creating the performance was still very similar, this year’s experience showed a notable difference between making a video versus performing multiple nights in a row.

Getting near the end of the third and final night of Madrigals is usually when reality sets in for the seniors that this is their last time doing Madrigals together, and it can be an emotional event.

“The seniors specifically are bawling their eyes out, because it’s like, ‘this is the end,’ and that didn’t happen this year,” Bare said. “When we did the end, we did not even realize at that point that it was the end, so I’d say that was the biggest difference.

“I still think it’s going to be a great show,” he added. “It turned out really great, I think.”

The choir sings songs throughout the evening. Bare said there will be some familiar pieces as well as some new ones.

In previous years, the students would serve their families dinner during the show. Brown, who has also been part of Madrigals for years, said she noticed how students did not get the opportunity to joke around and serve their families this time around.

“There’s lots of pros and cons,” she said. “It was good to see everyone come together in the choir to…get this one thing done that we needed to get done to make it presentable for the audience.”

Johnson said with the video, they got to take on a different type of acting. While everyone was looking forward to performing in front of a live audience, performing for the video brought a new twist to the event.

“I think it will definitely be positive, because I think we did do really good and I think that…everybody who recorded us definitely knew what they were doing. It was really interesting,” he said.

Haught is brand new to Cane Bay High this year after moving from Florida. She is also involved in drama at Cane Bay and said she enjoyed being a part of a choir doing a drama-centered show.

“It showcases that all of us are very multi-talented, we can adapt well to things we are doing and projects that we’re working on,” she said. “I’m really excited for people to see it.”

All the students agree the experience made them a stronger choir (and stronger friends), and that despite the added challenge of the pandemic this year’s Madrigal Dinners will be one they remember.

“I’ve gotten closer with a lot more people, especially outside of school,” Fisher said, adding, “It feels a lot easier to talk to people because you’re like, ‘oh yeah, they’re going through this right now too. They understand.’”

Johnson echoed similar thoughts about how they’ve created a close bond.

“It’s honestly going to be a very memorable experience, both short term and long term,” he said.