You don’t know how good you’ve got it until it’s gone. That just about sums up the last month. In the span of two days, Haverford students went from looking forward to performances to dreading cancellation of the next day’s practice. There was rumor of the musical being cut down to a single performance or even cancelled altogether.
“I broke down crying,” Sixth Former Pearse Glavin said.
Glavin played Billy Bigelow, Carousel’s dynamic lead role.
“I was in English class when I saw a notification on Facebook,” Glavin said. “I completely broke down.”
“It sank in more. I reached a point where I couldn’t stop crying,” Sixth Former Ben Hokenson, who played fisherman Enoch Snow, said.
Months and countless hours of preparation and rehearsal took a toll on Glavin and Hokenson.
“It felt like everything we had worked for was snatched away from us in the blink of an eye,” Glavin said. “This was what I had worked for since seventh grade when I started acting, and even since second grade when I started performing.”
Fifth Former Gabe Gowen played Jigger Craigin, Billy’s friend. Unsurprisingly, Gowen and Glavin’s goodwill carried beyond the stage and curtains.
“My first thought was about the seniors, especially Pearse, because they were great leaders and put so much into the show,” Gowen said.
Devastation turned to motivation when news came that the cast would get to perform one show on Thursday night. The previously scheduled dress rehearsal would now take the place of a Saturday night primetime performance.
“After the emotional moment, we looked at each other and agreed that we were going to kill it,” Hokenson said.
Many outsiders were uncertain if they should attend because there would be a large crowd in a dense space.
Ultimately, Haverford support outweighed COVID-19 fears. Hundreds of students and parents funnelled in, making the spacious Centennial Hall feel quite cozy. That Thursday night felt like a Broadway show.
“It was the most Haverford thing I have ever seen,” Gowen said. “It really shows a lot about the culture and the boys.”
Fifth Former Drew Loughnane shared this sentiment, finding consolation in unfortunate circumstances.
“In the musical, Billy acts rashly and does some bad things. Even with the negativity and doubt, he still finds himself having a happy moment during the graduation at the end,” Loughnane said.
“Seeing almost all of the seniors in the front row put a smile on my face for sure.”Pearse Glavin ’20
Similarly, amidst the negativity and doubt of the pandemic, director Mr. Darren Hengst’s cast brought forth a happy moment for the community.
“Seeing almost all of the seniors in the front row put a smile on my face for sure,” Glavin said.
Loughnane said, “There were people from all walks of Haverford life.”
“I had never seen that much energy before,” Hokenson said.
The leads showed their gratitude not only to each other and the audience but also to the smaller roles that provided the foundation.
“There were a lot of first-timers,” Glavin said. “They did a great job of leading despite learning everything on the fly.”
The sheer number of students was astonishing on its own. Dance and chorus scenes filled up the stage with actors and actresses. The tone of the night was inspiring even to those not interested in the performing arts.
“This is what theatre’s all about,” Loughnane said.
“I hope this showed people to try theatre and things they wouldn’t generally do.”Gabe Gowen ’21
“I hope this showed people to try theatre and things they wouldn’t generally do,” Gowen said.
The night concluded with Glavin’s emotional remarks highlighting his experience: how Mr. Hengst and Mr. Hightower’s directing and orchestrating were unmatched, how the cast was the hardest-working he’s ever experienced, and how the support made his journey from fill-in to lead role possible.
Carousel most likely marks the last school-sanctioned event of the year. Thursday, March 12 was a testament to making the most out of an imperfect situation, and it hopefully provided some solace amidst the chaos.
“I’m eternally grateful,” Glavin said. “It was surreal.”