St. Patrick High Drama Class Brings Musical Online

Story by Chiara Zussino, Photos by Patrick Chondon

It’s offishial, nothing can stop the Grade 12 drama class at St. Patrick High School from putting on a production—not even a pandemic. This year, the graduating class presented The Rainbow Fish Musical. Under normal circumstances, the public would be invited to the Selkirk Auditorium to watch the play live. However, due to current coronavirus restrictions, this was not possible, so the students and their teachers, Patricia Del Paggio and Julie Beach, were forced to innovate. 

With the help of Westfort Productions, 1sland Productions, and Chondon Photography, the drama class was able to bring their vision to life through a video recording—one that Del Paggio says made use of “flawless photography, editing, and melding of student’s voices on top of the video.” There were some scares along the way, especially around Christmas when the provincial stay at home order came into effect and schools were awaiting direction from the province. When asked why they still chose to go forward with the production, Beach explains that “when the students start drama in Grade 10 they build toward this production. It is something that we do every year. Even though we are in a pandemic, we knew that the kids have been looking forward to this and knew that the show had to safely go on.”

As for how the play was selected, Del Paggio revealed that her daughter had read The Rainbow Fish in her Grade 1 class, and after talking it over with Beach, they knew that they had to convince their Grade 12s that this was the play to do this year. The students were on board and felt that the play was extremely fitting, given the current global climate. As student-director Julia Buchan says, “we [Grade 12 drama students] think the message behind the story will not only resonate with children, but with adults as well, now, more than ever before. We must ‘be kind to one another and give back to those around us, it’s a feeling like no other.’”

Leads Payton O’Hare (Little Fish) and Ethan Middleton (Rainbow Fish) say there were a number of obstacles to putting on a musical during COVID-19. O’Hare sheds light on her personal journey with her character, explaining that her biggest challenge with this role was the singing. “Before this musical, I had never sung in front of anyone before […]. Along with wearing masks, it was very challenging to catch my breath while performing,” she says. “However, I tried to emulate Little Fish’s attitude by being courageous and bringing my best self to the stage.”

Middleton adds that “COVID restrictions were a huge challenge during the staging of the production. Whether it was trying to learn the dance numbers online or the small amount of days [16] we had in-class to prepare, there was always a challenge that presented itself. Without the amazing group of actors, directors and teachers we had, I don’t know if we would’ve been able to pull it together.”

As the Rainbow Fish learns in the play, “You’ve got to give a little more to get a little more.” This year, the Grade 12 drama students have given it their all to put on a production that unravels a beautiful truth during these times—that we must give fully to others in order to feel that love in return.

The Rainbow Fish Musical is currently available to the public and can be found online

through St. Patrick High School’s Facebook page (@St.PatrickHigh) and their YouTube channel.