I miss live theatre.


Lou Ligouri

Company. Mamma Mia! 2019….The last spring musical in the NPHS auditorium before the pandemic hit, (aka the Good Ole Days).

“Very often, I say to students during the course of a show, take pictures in your heart. I have such a photo album of moments and faces.”

NPHS Theatre Director Andrea Roney expressed those sentiments during our interview back in January, for Act Two of The Knight Crier’s 50 Years of NPHS Theatre retrospective. In the moment, her words hit me, as I instantaneously flipped through my own photo album. Being blown away by the dream scene in 2018’s Fiddler on the Roof. The “Waterloo” finale from 2019’s Mamma Mia! Crying laughing at The Barn Playhouse’s Seussical. 

As we approach March 12 and the one year anniversary of schools initially shutting down, my own photo album is feeling especially empty.

Thursday, March 12, 2020, was supposed to be opening night of Pennbrook’s Mary Poppins. Penndale’s The Little Mermaid would have opened the next night. I had bought tickets to both weeks earlier, and could not wait to step into the world of Disney, albeit in an overcrowded middle school auditorium. I remember the unprecedented confusion on that afternoon, not knowing if the shows would be cancelled or not. When they subsequently were, I knew it was going to be a long time before I would again step into a North Penn auditorium.

A year later, I still haven’t been back. 

Shrek was eventually cancelled. I got refunds on the season tickets I had purchased for The Barn Playhouse and Town and Country Players. My Broadway tickets for The Music Man, booked for October 2020, were pushed back again and again, now slated for 2022. 

I miss live theatre. A lot.

I miss driving to a theatre to see a show that I already know by heart, and listening to the soundtrack on the way there to hype myself up. I miss the squeaky chairs. The irritating up and down when someone sitting further down in your row arrives. The excitement that gradually builds as the audience settles and the overture commences. 

Let alone NPHS Theatre. I would give anything to be in this building at 9 am on a Saturday, working on the set. Hearing Kenny yell ‘loud noise!’ Or running to Wawa in between an after-school Thespian GMM and night rehearsal. I miss replacing the batteries in our mics. The laughter of my booth buddies, Rojin Mortizavi and James Klemmer (who are most likely hyped up on Swedish Fish). These little things, that can even feel like a burden or annoying in the moment, often end up being what sticks with you the most.

Social media, especially Tiktok, has allowed performers to thrive during the past year and continue to showcase their talents. But they know better than anyone that it could never be the same. I could never find the mot juste to accurately capture the energy that lingers in the air right before the first note of an overture. There has and always will be a insatiable cultural desire to come together as an audience and company to experience a story. The story of the theatre industry is slowly turning into its next chapter. Select Broadway shows will reopen in April for special events, and NPHS Theatre is planning on some form of an in-person show, recorded in the auditorium and streamed.  

This seemingly eternal intermission is almost over, and that curtain will rise again. And I can’t wait to be in the front row (or sound booth) when it does.