NUHS’s “Clue” canceled: The culprit? COVID-19
Spring play will be available to watch on YouTube
NEW ULM — A clever, funny whodunnit play called “Clue” will not be taking place at New Ulm High School (NUHS) on March 27 and 28 as originally scheduled after it was unfortunately canceled this past week due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States, everyone is being affected in some way. Now, 13 actors and eight crew members from NUHS have had to deal with their final play of the school year being officially canceled.
Sarah Thursby, the play’s director, said that when the news was announced to her this past Monday morning that Monday night would be the only guaranteed time together the cast and crew would have left, she was devastated. She said she called a meeting at school on Monday during the students’ lunch hour.
“I called a short-notice meeting at their lunch hour and I explained to them that Monday was their only guarantee for what we had,” Thursby said. “I tried to be as optimistic as possible and say, ‘Maybe we’ll get to do it again when all of this passes’ or, ‘Maybe we’ll get to do it later in the week,’ but as the day went on, that was becoming increasingly clear that that was not going to happen. And everybody was heartbroken, I mean the amount of tears that were shed as a family group was touching and also really sad.”
Ellie Wilker, a senior playing the role of Mrs. White, said the cancelation was especially heartbreaking for her as she’s been in every production that Thursby has directed.
“It was a heartbreaking experience being that I have been in every production that Sarah as done and every production that I could have been in since my seventh-grade year, so it was really heartbreaking,” Wilker said. “When I first got the news, I didn’t really know what to think, like, ‘No, this isn’t happening.’ But it doesn’t feel real. We performed it [Monday] for no one, and I still got the show vibes, but it wasn’t the same. The mixture of sadness and anger within me, it’s a terrible feeling. And it’s so unfair we didn’t get our time to better the show to the extent that it could have been, we didn’t get the time to have an audience, because it was one of the best shows I’ve been in since my seventh-grade year. It’s bizarre.”
London Watson, a sophomore playing the role of Wadsworth, said that while he was sad when he heard the news, he doesn’t think the work and time was for nothing.
“It was really sad, this was one of the better plays I’ve been a part of, one of the more fun ones,” Watson said. “And it was really sad to hear that we wouldn’t be able to do any public performances, but it wasn’t all for nothing. It was a good experience, practices were really fun.”
While the set was taken down Tuesday and the play will not go on in public as scheduled, there is a silver lining. Thursby recorded one of the performances this past Monday and said that she recieved the O.K. to put it online. She plans to have it on YouTube this weekend.
Those interested in watching the recording can find it at www.youtube.com/channel/UCrizr7RRJmJft3TU4jIXxFQ or by searching “Theater Thursby” on YouTube. There will be a trailer for the play along with the performance.
While it’s not the same as putting on a performance in front of a full house in the NUHS auditorium, Watson said he’s glad the production will be seen in some form online.
“It’s nice that people are going to be able to see it at least,” Watson said. “We put a lot of work into it, a lot of time, so I think people deserve to see it, too. It [the recording] came right after spring break with no practices, so it’s a bit rough, but it’s still pretty good and I’m proud of it, personally.”
Wilker said that having the play online is not the same, but it is good news.
“I think it’s a good thing, but at the same time, it’s not the same,” Wilker said. “From an actor’s perspective, it’s not the same for a performance, you don’t get the laughter or the little giggles, you don’t get the bustle in the audience, but it’s good that this is going to be able to be seen at some place.”
Thursby said that when she told the students that they would do one full run-through Monday night in makeup and costume, something the students hadn’t done yet to that point, they weren’t content and begged for two run-throughs back to back.
With emotions running high, Thursby and the students also received news that cast member Gené van der Velden, a foreign exchange student from Holland playing the role of Ms. Scarlet, would be sent home as soon as possible. Thursby said that the students were exhausted after the first run-through, but they walked a lap around the school outside and finished the second run-through.
The cast and crew have worked on this play since December, doing four to six rehearsals every week from January until the week of March 9, which was the week of spring break. Then the cast and crew performed the play for the last time this past Monday.
The set was also a communal effort, with Thursby and members of the high school staff providing many props for the set.
“They brought sconces and gilded mirrors, lamps, they brought in pillars and big cloths, we adorned the set to look like a mansion, so I said, ‘I need everything and anything,'” Thursby said. “They brought stainless silverware, cutlery, we had a whole china set leant to us, we had a five-foot black bear as well as a boar’s head mounted on the wall because it’s supposed to look high class, so we had a lot of eccentric things, many hanging chandeliers. Anything you can probably imagine, we got close to having it.”
Again, all interested in watching NUHS’s production of “Clue” are encouraged to search for the play’s recording on YouTube, leave a like and/or comment and share it with friends.
London Watson – Wadsworth
Jacob Martinka – Professor Plum
Braydon Hoffmann – Colonel Mustard
Brian Longtin – Mr. Green
Ellie Wilker – Mrs. White
Ellidi Mielke – Mrs. Peacock
Gené van der Velden – Ms. Scarlet
Yvette – Alex Vigil
Zach Lund – Mr. Boddy
Ari Urch – Motorist
Will Larson – Cop
Adam Roth – Cook
Lillian Fred – Auxiliary
Aaron Dewanz – Stage manager
Holden Fossen – Sound board
MaKenna Hazen – Sound effects
Makenna Lang – Light board
Emma Neet – HR spotlight
Bella Dunford – HL spotlight
Sarah Runck – Pianist
Renae Juni – Camera