The response was clear: Any time someone in the back row was singing, there would need to be a physical barrier between them and those in the front row. And any time actors were passing within six feet of one another — meaning basically every time a scene changed — they would need to wear a mask.
Filderman’s original conceit, in which the actors entered the stage masked, performed the show while socially distant but without masks, and then put on masks again when exiting into the offstage world, would not pass muster. “My concept for the show is gone,” he blurted out, “and life goes on.”
The first several scenes, which had already been rehearsed, would now need to be “Covid-proofed” — a phrase that, interchangeably with “Corona-proofed,” was quickly adopted by cast and crew. (Periodically, rehearsal would screech to a halt when someone yelled “Covid hold!” to raise a safety question.)
There were complications for the designers, too.
Hunter Kaczorowski, the costume designer, decided to tie-dye neck gaiters that could be used as face coverings during the show, easy to roll up and down without disrupting the head-mounted microphones.
Adelson, the lighting designer, was in charge of limiting glare off the partitions. And Randall Parsons, the set designer, managed the partitions themselves, rolling panels of clear vinyl that he called “spit guards.”
“We’re not ecstatic about this, but we’re doing what we have to do for the prime directive, which is safety,” said Parsons, who, like many of his colleagues, lost several jobs when the pandemic hit. “This is a new world for everyone. But I’m still like, ‘Oh my God, I have a show!’”