High School Theater During the Pandemic: Musical Pit Edition

High School Theater During the Pandemic: Musical Pit Edition

Anavi Prakash, Reporter

Covid-19 put everything to a standstill in March of last year, including high school productions. However, as the new school year began, several schools created ways for their shows to go on. On the other hand, several schools also saw the risk as too high, and have yet to restart productions. 

The following information has been compiled from several different schools in the North Shore and is meant to serve as a guide for those schools who are considering restarting their shows. 

Music classes have had to greatly readjust their methods since the pandemic started. However, it has been proven that having those music classes is possible, the key factor being distance. Although playing music itself is possible, musicals face bigger challenges because the main question is where the pit will be in relation to the stage, so that distance is ensured between them, the cast, and the crew. 


Depending on how the pit for the show is being conducted, rehearsal strategies vary from school to school. Shorewood High School is pre-recording all their tracks and vocals so maximum safety is ensured. On the other hand, Whitefish Bay High School, although having a live pit, aren’t allowing students to participate, as they have in previous years. 

The majority of the instruments will be string and percussion, as woodwinds and brass instruments involve droplet spreadage. Overall, woodwinds are not being used, and the brass players will be even more distanced from everyone else when playing. For Whitefish Bay, the number of instruments and small pit (four adults) make it easier to rehearse outside the school and will only begin rehearsing with the cast two weeks before the performance dates. One of the tricks they have is hiring professional musicians to play in the pit, making it easier to be separate from the cast for longer periods of time.

Following the usual Covid-19 guidelines is always a given, and every musician is required to wear a mask and distance at all times. 

Actual Shows 

The shows themselves is where things get tricky, as placement for the pit is difficult. Due to that, there are several different ideas in the air, and the actual plan will be determined closer to show time. Whitefish Bay has three plans in place, the most ideal one being on far stage left. However, if that doesn’t work out, plans range from being in the back of the auditorium, to in another classroom altogether, projecting the sound from speakers. 


All in all, having a pit is possible, and working around the tricky areas can result in something great. Whitefish Bay and Shorewood both have successful plans in the works for their pits, paving the way for other schools to follow. 


A huge thank you to Mr. Johnston from Whitefish Bay, and Mr. Cappleman from Shorewood for sharing their musical pit plans!