Coronavirus concerns place a halt on ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’

Alexander Diaz-Lopez, Public Relations

‘Peter and the Starcatcher,’ which was set to open Friday, March 13 has been postponed to May in response to coronavirus concerns. Cast members were informed about such a sudden measure Thursday after school, exactly a day before opening night. 

The move to postpone the show was followed by a DCPS announcement on Friday morning regarding school closures. In an email that was sent out to the DCPS community, Chancellor Lewis Ferebee stated that from March 17 to March 31, all DCPS schools will remain closed due to COVID-19 and will reopen April 1.

Dan Iwaniec, theatre director and teacher at Wilson, kept a close eye on the developments regarding the coronavirus leading up to Thursday’s decision to postpone the show. “The situation was fluid and fast-moving, so we were trying to keep an eye for things and looking at what other places were doing at that time,” Iwaniec said. 

On Thursday, in an effort to err on the side of caution, Iwaniec decided to make it optional for his students to see “Peter and the Starcatcher,” instead of mandatory. However, as the day progressed, concerns from parents and staff regarding the performance remained, so Iwaniec met with Principal Kimberly Martin and other administrators to discuss the show. 

“We talked through the possibilities of what might happen and it just seemed like for most people, we were getting that they were uncomfortable with having [the show] this weekend, with everything going on and that we should continue to be cautious with it,” Iwaniec said. Wilson administration and Iwaniec alike did not want to cancel the show and instead decided to postpone it.

The decision took cast members by surprise. Senior Ella Schnieder, who plays Betty Bumbrake in the show, worries about the uncertainty of postponement. “I’m a senior and this is my last show at Wilson, so I’m really sad because we might not know what’s going to happen in May. There’s a chance we might not do it in May or that something happens in May. We don’t know,” Schnieder said. 

This sentiment was also felt beyond the actors of the show. Sophomore Annie Mclean, the show’s stage manager, noted the hard work and dedication of the cast in the days leading up to opening night. “We’ve all put in so much time and effort and love into this show and it’s hard that I have to watch all these actors not be able to do this,” explained Mclean. While both Schnieder and Mclean are saddened about the decision, they also understand why such a choice was made. “I think it’s just safer and I think it’s the right decision but it’s definitely upsetting,” Mclean said. 

Instead of opening on Friday, the cast of Peter and the Starcatcher had a dress rehearsal. “So we’re recording a show [Friday] so like family can see it. It’s not a performance, it’s just us recording it,” said Schneider. The dress rehearsal was open to the immediate family of cast members only. 

Iwaneic also pointed out potential scheduling concerns about the Wilson theatre program in the upcoming months. “We’re also anticipating that because there’s so many other things that are going to be affected from [school closings], everything from Labels Off to Players, there’s a lot of concerns about other groups having enough time to work on things,” Iwaniec said. Labels Off was scheduled to present ‘Aida’ in late March and Players were set to perform the spring play in May. However, that is now subject to change.