By TED POTRIKUS • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
Kenneth Grahame’s beloved book “The Wind in the Willows” comes to life on stage when the Cooperstown Central School’s CCS Thespians open a weekend’s worth of performances beginning November 12.
“This is a huge undertaking, but we’re so excited,” said CCS music teacher and show director Tim Iversen. “We planned on a different show but we wanted to get as many people on stage participating as we could.”
“It’s not just the high schoolers this year,” he said. “We have junior high and elementary school students and parents from the community coming in to be a part of the production. We’ve got about 50 people in the cast. It’s a joy!”
Opening night for the big cast and crew at Cooperstown High School’s N.J. Sterling Auditorium is Friday, November 12, at 7 p.m. Weekend performances take place on Saturday, November 13 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., then again on Sunday, November 14 at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Tickets are $12 for adults, $6 for students, $30 for family, and are free-of-charge for senior citizens who live in the school district. Mr. Iversen said the school is following strict COVID safety restrictions. Audience members will be required to wear masks and sit by family units. And because of COVID restrictions, tickets must be reserved in advance.
“It’s kind of a crazy schedule of performances, but to make sure we follow safety guidelines, we have to make sure there is ample space between audience members and groups,” Mr. Iversen said. “We’re putting on a couple more shows to accommodate everyone since we can’t physically fill the auditorium. We want to keep everyone safe.”
Sophomore Avery Croft plays “Mole” in the production. No stranger to the stage, she has acted in school productions and worked with the Glimmerglass Festival.
“It’s a creative outlet that adds so much and makes school life all the better,” she said. “It’s a huge stress reliever. We have such a good time together and it comes across in our show.”
Fellow sophomore Lucy Hayes takes on two roles — the jailer’s daughter and a fox — and commented on how auditioning for the production has enhanced her own high school experience.
“I’ve played a lot of sports and went out for the musical this year,” she said. “I have a whole new friend group and met so many great new people. Every person has been so welcoming and friendly. I love it!”
Her mother and sister join her in the production, making it a big family event.
It’s not the first live production Mr. Iversen undertook in the face of COVID restrictions. As the crisis ebbed slightly at the end of last year’s lockdown school year and students returned to in-person education, Mr. Iversen seized the opportunity to stage a performance of “Little Shop of Horrors.”
Cooperstown Central became one of the only schools in the state — if not the northeast — to render a live production on a school stage during the height of COVID lockdowns.
“We put that together in only five-and-a-half weeks at the tail end of the school year,” he said. “COVID had robbed these kids of so much that I felt it our responsibility to them, to the school, and to the community to try to bring a little joy into the last weeks of the school year.”
Tickets can be reserved by calling the Cooperstown Central School main office at 607-547-8181. Due to COVID restrictions, purchasers must reserve tickets in advance and then pay for them within five days of making the reservation in order to be guaranteed a seat. With COVID restricting the size of the audience, CCS Thespians will accept “freewill donations” to sponsor an “empty seat” at each performance.