Organizations have big plans for the spring audition season

How groups plan to adapt and perform during the rise of the Omicron variant

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Photo by Keanna Pena '25 | The Baker Center for the Arts

It’s audition season, but that has a new meaning during a pandemic. The faculty and students at Muhlenberg are committed to creating the wonderful performances that our community is known for; however, with the current pandemic, those in charge of the audition process have a new challenge: keeping everyone safe while still having fun.

Various precautions were taken to ensure the safety of all those involved in productions this semester. Rachelle Montilus ‘24, the coordinator for Studio performances this semester, describes how the audition process was altered, saying, “Studio auditions were held virtually this semester so that directors could get a better idea of what actors will look like without masks, and so the actors did not have to be in the room with the directors because that was a big concern with COVID.” In terms of the performances, Montilus stated, “We’re sticking to the college mandated 12 feet between performers and the audience so that the performers can remain unmasked for performances. Of course, if the policy with COVID on campus and the masking policy changes, then we’ll have to make that adjustment. But for now, we’re trying to do as much as we can to make sure that performers can do what they love to do.” Montilus also points out the important agreement and trust that exists between fellow cast members: “All of our directors are going to talk to their casts about agreements with COVID safety and complying with protocols so that all cast members can be safe and they can keep their fellow cast members safe.”

“Wearing a mask during rehearsal and performances can be an inconvenience because it’s usually helpful to be able to see people’s faces during songs, but I’m just so grateful to be there that I’ll, of course, do it without complaint.”

-Charlotte McKay ’24

Those involved in performance groups have a positive opinion of those who are running auditions and rehearsals this semester. Charlotte McKay ‘24, a member of the Women’s Choir Ensemble, stated, “I feel so grateful that I still have the opportunity to be in a choir during the pandemic. In the early stages of the pandemic, I was worried I would never sing in a choir again.” The ensemble is run by Dr. Chris Jackson, and McKay states, “He has done an amazing job to keep our spirits high while maintaining safety precautions, and still make choir that warm and exciting place for so many people.”

In terms of safety precautions, McKay describes mask-wearing while singing, saying, “Wearing a mask during rehearsal and performances can be an inconvenience because it’s usually helpful to be able to see people’s faces during songs, but I’m just so grateful to be there that I’ll, of course, do it without complaint.” Like many others, McKay is grateful to have the opportunity to perform once again and recognizes the dedication of those running these programs.

Shira Holtz ‘24, who is a part of the a capella group Chaimonics, describes the audition process, which took place at the beginning of the semester. She says, “In regards to auditions, it’s not very different from last semester. Last semester I was auditioning and this semester I get to be on the other side of the table, so the experience felt very different to me but the actual logistics have luckily been able to be pretty similar. All of the a cappella groups were able to hold in-person auditions and are planning for in-person callbacks which really helps everyone get a vibe for each other and it’s so lovely to get to hear people sing in person!” 

Danny Milkis ‘23, who helped coordinate auditions for the a capella group Noteworthy, stated, “In addition to having our normal in-person auditions, we also had an option for people to send in videos, and those people who sent in videos that we wanted to call back we asked that they come in person and that seemed to work for our group specifically.”

Something that is clear from this audition season is the dedication and resilience of the Muhlenberg community. Even though there is a pandemic, the performance groups on campus are still extremely committed to creating meaningful performances in the safest way possible.

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