Los Altos High School’s musical production of “Mamma Mia” will follow a number of COVID-19 protocols outlined by the Mountain View–Los Altos School District, including a smaller cast, spread out rehearsals, a mask mandate and the theatre doors open at all times.
All participants in the musical will be required to wear a mask at all times in the auditions, rehearsals and during the performance. Masks will not affect microphones’ ability to pick up sound, but they can make it more difficult for singers to open their mouths to create a tall, resonant sound important for projection while singing, according to LAHS chorus teacher Lauren Diez.
Another requirement for the musical is that the doors to the theater will remain open and the air filtration system will be running at all times to maintain continuous air flow, according to LAHS acting teacher Nancy Moran. However, the construction noises might disrupt cast members’ ability to hear and play music, Diez noted.
“That’s a compromise because it will disrupt the lights, but it would be worth it to keep the air safer,” dance teacher April Oliver said.
The audience will be limited to a 50 percent capacity, with a maximum of 188 audience members. The cast of the musical has also been significantly reduced from the usual number of 40–60 members to 25 members.
“I think what is most intimidating about the COVID restrictions is the smaller cast because seniors and juniors are supposed to have priority this year, but there were so many people at the workshops,” senior Carina Huang said. “I’m thinking that maybe only a quarter of the people at the workshops are going to make it in, which is scary.”
The size of the orchestra will be smaller as well, according to Moran. The music for “Mamma Mia” does not include any wind instruments, which coincidentally worked out well with COVID, Oliver noted.
“I am very eager for the time when we will be able to do away with some of these restrictions and get back to how things were,” Diez said. “I’ll be very excited when that day comes, but for now, I respect and understand why the restrictions are in place and I think it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
Despite restrictions, students are looking forward to participating in the musical this year.
“I’m pretty excited,” junior Margot Johnsen said. “Mamma Mia is a real crowd-pleaser, and the songs are fun. When I was in HSM [High School Musical], I was a nervous freshman and I didn’t really put myself out there that much. This time, I’m really in it to have fun and go all out.”