EHS drama students and professional musical theater composer team up for online show on COVID

Press release from Alachua County Public Schools

Typically the Eastside High School Drama Department would be preparing for its next performance on the school’s stage and in front of a live audience. COVID, of course, has changed all that. 

But as the arts world has adapted to the reality of the pandemic, so too have the EHS drama students and their teacher, Tammy Meyers. In fact, they’ve taken their COVID-related experiences and turned them into an original musical that will be airing later this month.

The show, ‘Ages Ago and Yesterday: A New Musical,’ will run February 19 and 20th at 7 p.m., and on February 21st at 4 p.m. Tickets run $15 PER DEVICE–a nod to the new way the show is being presented in the age of COVID. Tickets can be purchased online at our.show/eastsideagesago

When it became obvious that a standard, in-person production was not going to be possible, Meyers asked her students to write monologues about the impact of COVID on their lives. She recruited her friend and New York City musical theater writer, composer, and performer Jacob Fjeldheim to turn her students’ words into music. The students then headed to a local studio for professional recording and mixing. The result is a show featuring 24 students performing 12 monologues and six songs. 

“I think it was really exciting for them because so much has been taken away from them because of what we’re going through,” said Meyers. “I wanted them to feel like their voices were being heard.” 

The show includes both humorous and tragic stories about life under COVID. Although the students were not physically ‘together’ for most of the project, junior Marrien Manning says the cast and crew grew closer in a different way.

“Everybody was writing from their hearts and from their experiences, and so we developed a deeper connection in that way,” she said. “This was a window into our hearts and what we’ve been feeling during this time.”

Junior Kasiana Bartley hopes the show has the same effect on those watching it.

“I hope they can have that nice moment with whoever they’re watching it with and take some time to reflect on what this whole experience with the pandemic has been like for them, to look back on it and really cherish the connections they have with other people.” 

Meyers says this has definitely been a growing experience for both her and her students.

“Yes, we miss the stage, and it’s different, but it’s also exciting and a new and different way to challenge ourselves,” said Meyers.