Virtual curtain to rise

Virus changes format but it doesn’t stop Cedar Grove-Belgium High School play

THIS IS WHAT rehearsals look like for the Cedar Grove-Belgium High School play. The performance of “Bad Auditions... On Camera” will be recorded and available on YouTube for 48 hours from May 22 to May 23. Directors Mary Beth Desens (top left) and Dave Claerbaut (top center) found a script that allowed for rehearsals via Zoom, thus saving the spring play. Photo courtesy of Mary Beth Desens
Ozaukee Press Staff

That old saying “The show must go on” didn’t originate during a pandemic, but it epitomizes the creativity and dedication of teachers Dave Claerbaut, Mary Beth Desens and their cast.

Cedar Grove-Belgium High School has gotten used to holding a play in the fall and one in the spring. This year, the second performance was basically eliminated when Gov. Tony Evers shuttered schools until the end of the school year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Not so fast, Claerbaut and Desens said.

The directors, who years ago started a spring play on a volunteer basis to give more students a chance to perform, worked to find a script that could be rehearsed and performed via video conferencing.

They found one, along with an agreeable cast.

“Bad Auditions… On Camera” will be recorded and available to watch on YouTube for 48 hours from May 22 through May 23.

Claerbaut and Desens usually welcome any and all to be part of performances in some capacity, making for large casts and that challenge them to find enough roles, but this spring they limited participation.

“We just really wanted to do a show, especially for our seniors who have missed out on so much during the Covid-19 crisis. The play has only senior and junior actors to make sure any senior that wanted to be in the play was given a chance,” Claerbaut said.

“I’m excited that we have the opportunity to work with these guys one more time,” Desens said.

The pair were thankful that administration got on board.

“When asked about the possibility, I thought it was a stretch, but I am really excited to see the production and all of the hard work that they have put into it,” Principal Josh Ketterhagen said of the students and directors. “To have something like this to look forward to and something that these students will be able to remember this time is priceless.”

The play is a single-act comedy that tells the story of a desperate director attempting to remotely fill a role for a TV show. Her bumbling assistant has booked unique “talent” for auditions to be performed via computer, Claerbaut said.

The plot’s logistics aren’t unlike how the cast is rehearsing, and that’s by design. It is one script from a small pool that allows for rehearsals via Zoom, a video conferencing tool that quickly became popular across the country once stay-at-home orders were given.

While it is far from a regular play, rehearsals have been going well with just a minor glitch here and there, the cast said this week.

“Zoom cuts out and you can’t hear what they’re saying. Other than that, it’s fine,” Kennedy Schoeder said.

Other distractions come from different sources.

“My dog saw the postman one day. It was just blasting through everyone’s speakers. I was so embarrassed,” Wesley Reichle said.

Family members of other actors and actresses like to accidentally make cameo appearances by walking into the room. Schoeder said her sister wants to get her pet Guinea pigs on camera.

Costumes are another story. The students don’t have access to the school’s supply, and thrift stores aren’t open.

“We have to come up with them ourselves. Some of them portray their character very well,” Ben Fleuchaus said.

“I think it’s interesting having to make a costume out of stuff in our house,” Lydia Lavey said.

Set design consists of whatever is behind the actors.

“If you’re lucky, you have the ability to put a background in, otherwise you’re just kind of stuck with whatever’s in your house,” Fleuchaus said.

As far as on-stage chemistry, the cast is mostly full of veterans who have acted together before.

Jeff Vrubley is the only rookie.

“It’s actually been really fun. We’ve had a lot of laughs while practicing,” he said.

Physical humor is difficult to execute, especially with cameras showing actors from the shoulders up, but that’s not to say the performance won’t include at least one occurrence.

Comedic timing has actually worked well. Schoeder said jokes get right to the point.

“It’s nice not having to pause for laughter,” she said.

What the students miss is spending that behind-the-scenes time together in person.

“Stuff that happens backstage when you’re not on the stage actually performing — there’s a lot of joking around and play cast bonding. That’s really fun,” Allison Wieberdink said.

The students also miss out on hearing that heartfelt applause at the end of the performance, but more than the usual 500 people may get to see the play. Putting it online allows family and friends across the country to watch.

“If we can get the word out well enough, we can get an awful lot of people to see it,” Claerbaut said.

Lavey said she is thankful that Desens and Claerbaut put in so much time to just allow students to perform, a sentiment the rest of the cast echoed.

The district will post a link to watch the play on its website at



Click Here to Send a Letter to the Editor

Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


User login