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Calhoun's On Tour Company does Shakespeare at a social distance

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Calhoun High School’s On Tour Company is preparing for its 35th annual Shakespeare performance, “The Comedy of Errors,” amid the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

Club members — under the direction of director Sal Salerno, student president Nolan Donohue and student assistant directors Claire Levasseur, Sharyn Schweitzer, Breana Raehse and Max Unlu — have been learning to navigate the rehearsal process while following social distancing guidelines and utilizing larger performance spaces that can accommodate the entire cast.

This year’s production of “The Comedy of Errors” includes two casts and two sets of performances to give as many students the opportunity to perform as possible. The play follows Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant, Dromio, who are each searching for their respective twin brothers, Antipholus and Dromio of Ephesus, whom they were separated from in a shipwreck long ago. The situation causes much confusion among the characters, and subsequently erupts into chaos.

Cast A’s performance — starring Zach Pakula and Max Unlu as Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse, and Stephen Rini and Nolan Donohue as Antipholus and Dromio of Ephesus — will be performed via livestream on Nov. 20.

Cast B’s gender-bent performance — starring, Isabelle Oliver and Megan Tragesser as Antiphola and Dromio of Syracuse, and Georgia Koutsouras and Caitlyn Raehse as Antiphola and Dromio of Ephesus — will be streamed on Nov. 21.

Principal Nicole Hollings has always been incredibly supportive of the program, and her support continues through these unprecedented times.

On Tour is largely student-run and operated but also works with adult supervisors Alex Austein, Lydia Gladstone, Tony Melfa and Mark Tarantino. Students put a tremendous amount of time and effort into the production of each show and learn how to work closely together.

Prior to Covid-19-related closures earlier this year, On Tour had been preparing to open “The Secret Garden,” a musical adaptation of the Frances Hodgson Burnett novel. Although the production was initially canceled, Salerno hopes to remount the production later this year so the students’ hard work can be showcased in some capacity.

On Tour has three entirely new productions planned this year: Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors,” Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” and, for the spring musical, “Something Rotten!” by John O’Farrell and Karey Kirkpatrick.

On Tour takes great pride in its annual Shakespeare productions and has competed in Hofstra University’s Shakespeare Festival for many years. Last year, the company performed a scene from its 2019 production of “Twelfth Night,” receiving the Best Ensemble award.

For more information about the livestream performances and ticket prices, visit chsontourco.org. Tickets are on sale now.