The Arts Programs had a (Shortened) Year to Remember

Poster for MHS 2019-2020 musical titled Singing in the Rain.

Photo Courtesy to @MamaroneckPublicSchools on Facebook

Poster for MHS 2019-2020 musical titled “Singing in the Rain”.

Henry Bova, A&L Page Director

Every year in the graduation issue, year-end pieces on various departments at Mamaroneck High School will often contain a descriptor saying the year was “unique” or “different.” This year, however, things were obviously different to a much greater extent for students and faculty members at Mamaroneck High School, with the school year being truncated in mid-March and Governor Cuomo later declaring schools would remain online for the remainder of the year. Thankfully, before this time, the many art and music departments at Mamaroneck High School were able to have a year worth celebrating, even if it ended on a disappointing note. 

The 2019-2020 school year featured two major stage productions: The Crucible and Singing In The Rain. The Crucible, an Arthur Miller play about the Salem Witch Trials, ran in the beginning of the school year and featured a starkly minimal set design, with only a few props such as chairs and beds for the actors to work with. “This forced the cast to work even harder in order to create the world in which the story took place,” said Harry Dircks, one of two 12th graders who portrayed the main character John Proctor. While this lack of grand stage production posed a new challenge for many in the play, both casts put in heavily emotional performances that were received well by audiences. “I remember seeing a full house for all of the performances,” added Dircks. “It seemed like everyone was really impressed because they only had nice things to say.”

Singing In The Rain was a vastly different production, being a musical featuring many complex technical features and a pit orchestra. Performed in late February, the musical featured very difficult choreography and the largest number of location changes on stage that we have ever produced,” said Ms. Gellert, MHS orchestra teacher and director of the musical. Although the production was challenging to pull off, it proved to be a unique and rewarding experience for all involved. “I love that every year is a completely different show and experience for all involved,” Gellert added, “I love that we can look back on each production with great pride and reflect on what we learned as a company.” Just like The Crucible, Singing In The Rain was lauded by all who saw it.

Both the art and music departments at MHS also had years to remember. The art department saw a huge increase, with “a record 694 students enrolled in an art class,” according to art teacher Mr. Rizzuti. When asked about the two shows held in the beginning of the year, the fall art show and the AP show, he commended them both, saying, “the AP show was our biggest in the decade I’ve taught at MHS” with over 40 students involved. The music department also had a memorable year, with the annual winter concert for orchestra, band, and choir, and an exchange concert featuring the orchestra and choir programs of both MHS and Elwood-John Glenn High School in Elwood, NY. Despite the many successes of the arts programs at the high school, the year ended on a less positive note. All spring events were either postponed or cancelled, including the annual music department trip, spring art show, and orchestra, band, and chorus spring concerts. “We were all sad–teachers, students, administration,” said Mr. Rizzuti. Despite how upsetting the abrupt end to the school year was, it was ultimately seen as necessary. “While being very disappointed that it was cancelled due to the pandemic, I support and understand the precautions needed to be taken,” said Ms. Gellert, with Greg Gold echoing similar sentiments, saying, “It was expected given the circumstances.” As of now, the music department trip to Philadelphia is set for this fall, as is the spring art show. 

The 2019-2020 school year was memorable for both good and bad reasons, but ultimately, it should be looked back on with pride. In the abbreviated time at school, all of the arts programs were able to showcase what makes MHS great. While the world’s future seems to be up in the air at the moment, the future for art and music in Mamaroneck continues to shine bright.