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Lights! Camera!: Student show must go on, but online this year

November 27, 2020 Digital Media Exclusive

“It's a Wonderful Life” production members Tyler Bodily and Jessica Kibler set up a scene outside the home of Robert and Autumn Palmiter at 314 Fourth St. in Freeport. Freeport Area High School students filmed a play this year instead of performing it on stage.

Freeport is standing in for Bedford Falls, N.Y.

And if the Freeport Area High School students portraying George Bailey, Old Man Potter and the rest of the townspeople had to look cold while filming in 70-degree weather, well, that's why it's called acting.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic swept the nation, school theatrical groups have lost the opportunity to perform.

Freeport High students came up with a creative solution for the show to go on.

The school is producing a pay-per-view version of Frank Capra's holiday classic, “It's a Wonderful Life.” The movie will be available for rent online and will be streamed during the weekend of Dec. 11 to 13.

Thomas Koharchik, the Freeport middle and high school chorus director and musical theater director/producer, started early in planning the production.

“I really kind of made my mind up in early August,” said Koharchik. “The first thing we had to do was get permission from the publisher to make a video, make a movie out of that.

“It was a matter of communicating what the idea was and getting everybody on board with that,” he said.

Because of social-distancing rules, the 20 student actors in the cast auditioned for their roles on Zoom.

This is an excerpt from a larger article that appears in Sunday's Butler Eagle. Subscribe online or in print to read more about how the film was produced.