The Irreplaceable Joy of Performing Live


The 2021 Madrigals Performance

Dina Shlufman, Staff Writer

I have always been involved in something music-related since I was 4 years old. I started off with piano lessons and singing lessons, then I migrated to musical theater, and I even dabbled in guitar and dance for a bit. In short, music has always been a constant in my life.

When the pandemic began, the music world took one of the largest hits. After all, what is the point of producing music if you can’t collaborate and share your art? The honors choir class at school, much like many other music programs in the country, was unable to completely make the successful transition to virtual learning because it’s just not the same. We tried to supplement the lack of interaction with video editing and a plethora of music education websites, but nothing could properly capture the magic of singing together in one room and building upon each other’s energies. 

Every December, the honors choirs and orchestras put on a production called Madrigals. It is essentially a form of live theater, or dinner-and-a-show. The audience is seated at tables where they enjoy a meal and watch a play that takes place in Elizabethan England. The event is also marked with cheerful holiday songs. 

Last year, the show was pre-recorded and posted on YouTube, but I found myself lacking in enthusiasm in general. Without the energy of the crowd, it was hard to picture this as an actual performance. However, this year, we were back in-person! While unfortunately, there was no food served this year and we all had to wear masks, my fellow singers, musicians, and I were just happy to get back to performing. 

Right before my performance, I was getting a little anxious because I had the first line in the show, which meant that I had to start it. Before the show began, all the performers went out into the audience to greet them, and after my cue (the ringing of a bell), we started. When all of the performers pushed through the door and went out in the crowd, all my anxieties disappeared. I was no longer Dina; I was the Steward and I was going to give the audience the best show of their lives.

I rang that bell loud and clear and felt all eyes on me for the first time in 2 years, and I loved it. I had always taken the so-called performance-thrill for granted. After this performance, however, I realized all that I was missing. 

Valentina Orozco (’23), Michela Wallach (’23), and I after our Madrigals performance.

My sentiment seems to be shared by my fellow classmates who have also recently participated in their first live performances of the year.  “Being on stage was honestly a powerful experience that’s hard to put into words because it allows me to express my true self,” Ryan Kim (’23), the 2021 winner of Tenafly’s Got Talent, said. “I felt genuinely happy during the performance because everything was…awesome and the audience was staying involved throughout, which alleviated any fear or stress. I just felt like I was having the time of my life, performing two of my favorite songs with close friends. Knowing that my friends were in the audience also helped me feel sky high…I just value public performances more because it’s a hard atmosphere to replicate.”

Valentina Orozco (‘23), who played Frau Bessel, Frau Gabor, and Frauline Grossenbussenhaulter in the THS production of Spring Awakening, said that “it felt like a relief to be back on stage performing in front of an audience. This was the first time I was back on a stage performing a show in front of a live audience since the start of the pandemic. It felt energizing and so much fun to be doing something I love in front of people who enjoy seeing it.”

While COVID-19 seems to be heading in the wrong direction, I’m glad that performers were able to at least briefly experience the joy of sharing their craft despite some virus restrictions. My only hope is that my performance projected that smile under my mask!