Performance of "Ranked" bringing the theater back to Pueblo County High School students
It was March 12, 2020, and students at Pueblo County High School were about to do a live performance of the musical "Rock of Ages" in front of a full audience.
The students starring in the musical would finally have the opportunity to perform what they had been practicing for many weeks.
Then the coronavirus pandemic struck the United States and the rest of the world. Everything — including theater performances — came to a halt and forced everyone to move to a virtual setting.
The school's musical was canceled just a few hours before the show was going to begin and the high school closed and moved to online learning.
"It was really sad and a lot of my classmates were crying," said Kylie Kuhl, a senior at Pueblo County who was involved in the musical.
Kuhl's sister had flown from Michigan to come watch her performance and it was hard for Kuhl to not be able to perform live for her.
"We thought it was one of the best shows we've ever done," she said. "We worked so hard and our set and costumes looked amazing."
As the pandemic continued, performing arts programs were not allowed to do any live shows and much of their practices were faced with restrictions due to the COVID-19 guidelines.
Programs have been pushing for at least one live performance since the beginning of the school year.
Taylor Gilman, theater director at Pueblo County, said during the pandemic, her students have been working much harder than usual and have a greater appreciation for things since they have experienced losing the opportunity to perform throughout the year.
"It really matters to them and you can see it in their performances," Gilman said. "I think there's a lot of gratitude from everyone involved."
This spring, theater students will finally have the opportunity to perform a live show after more than a year.
They will be performing the musical "Ranked" in front of a live audience with limited capacity.
"It's a new musical," Gilman said. "It was first written in 2019 and we're the first school in Colorado to produce it in-person. It's about a dystopian society where your class rank determines everything about your life."
The students have been practicing for about eight weeks and for them, the chance to perform for people like their families is uplifting.
Kuhl will star in "Ranked" as Alexis, who is a senior ranked as above average in her class. She's timid and shy around people other than her boyfriend, Ryan, and her sister, Lilly.
"She really worries about what other people think and what they think about her home life," she said. "She puts so much pressure on her younger sister to be above the average to make her mom proud."
Being a senior, this musical will be the last performance of her high school career and she hopes it will be memorable.
"Ranked" will be performed at 7 p.m. April 15-18 as well as 2 p.m. on April 18th.
Chieftain Education Reporter Joe McQueen can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @jmcqueennews