Menlo’s Spring Musical ‘Pippin’ Continues With Online Rehearsals


Vocal instructor for “Pippin,” Rick Reynolds, leads the cast in singing one of the songs from the show over Google meet. Staff Photo: Penelope Stinson.

Penelope Stinson, Staff Writer

The show must go on, and in the case of the Menlo spring musical, “Pippin,” the show will go on. 

In light of the recent school closure, many Menlo extracurricular activities have decided to either take a break, or cancel their respective events. But, Steven Minning, the director of the spring musical, Pippin, has decided to continue the show despite losing at least more than a month and a half of school.

Minning believes that continuing the show is something that the actors who are part of the production need. “I wouldn’t have continued [the show] if I didn’t feel that they really wanted it,” Minning said. He also added that it was important for the students to feel good about overcoming strong odds and being able to thrive because of the production. “Art really does make everything lighter and brighter, […] music really heals the soul and I think theater does too,” Minning explained. 

Because they are unable to have in-person rehearsals during the closure, Minning has decided to hold rehearsals online via Google meet. In these full cast rehearsals, cast members join a Google meet, mute their microphones and sing along while the vocal instructor Rick Reynolds teaches them their vocal parts. Minning also holds smaller online rehearsals with specific actors where he works on small scenes from the show. 

Cast members of “Pippin” are grateful that the show is still on, specifically Emma McGaraghan, who plays the part of the Leading Player, and Tucker Gold, who plays the part of Pippin. Both are thrilled to still be able to participate in “Pippin,” and McGaraghan is also appreciative to have something to break up her day under the shelter-in-place order. 

McGaraghan additionally emphasized a similar point to Minning in which she highlighted the benefit of the arts, specifically theater, during such an uncertain time. “I think if we’re actually able to go back to school and put on the show, it would be a fantastic community bonding event to bring the whole school back together,” McGaraghan said. 

Both McGaraghan and Gold find the specific, small group rehearsals in Google meets to be very helpful for working on their characters, but McGaraghan noted that it’s slightly more difficult to do the full cast rehearsals. “With 35 people all on one video call, there’s no way to check that everyone understands everything and that everything sounds good and is blending in general all together,” McGaraghan said. 

But it’s also possible that the format of the show will be changed because of the limited rehearsal schedule. “We’re talking with our team right now on all kinds of versions [of the show] from a full production to a partial production to a concert version to a virtual production,” Minning said. Minning also expressed that he might even consider doing the show outside of the normal school year in the event the school shutdown lasts until summer. 

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, Minning is one of the few directors who is able to continue their show and has chosen to do so. According to their website, the theater department at Palo Alto High School had to cancel their spring play, “Tartuffe,” due to their school shutdown. Even all Broadway shows have been suspended until April 12, but plan to go on as scheduled on April 13, according to The New York Times.