Four days away from its opening night, Michigan State’s Department of Theatre production “Bonnets” was canceled because of the threat of COVID-19.
The show had an all-female cast of 13 with a slightly larger crew. Nine people in the company were seniors putting together their last show.
“It came out of nowhere,” said costume designer and fifth-year senior, Chantel Booker. “Now it’s over. Our college career is done.”
The show’s full name is “Bonnets: How Ladies of Good Breeding Get Away with Murder.” It is set in three separate timelines and features women who commit homicide, all in a punk rock theme.
Cast member Samantha Campbell said the show explores how these women try to justify the murders while staying good in the eyes of society and God, but everything goes wrong in each storyline.
“It’s a show that you don’t know what is going to happen. There is a lot of unexpected elements,” said Booker.
Campbell was in class when she heard that her show was postponed. She recalls going to breakfast, constantly refreshing her phone for more information.
Booker was in the costume workshop in the department when she received the email. She said the feel of the shop just didn’t feel right that day.
Mia Taylor, the show’s stage manager, was heading to the same class that director Ann Foloino White was teaching. When she arrived, she said she noticed White was understandably really upset.
“It’s just really hard to see all that hard work go to waste,” said Taylor.
The show was then postponed and intended to be put on about a month later in late April when Michigan State students were to return to class.
“We thought that we would at least get a weekend, but that didn’t happen,” said Taylor.
The show was canceled completely about a week later. The campus would not reopen. The show would not go on.
“After we found out about the April 20th date and we could try to put the show on in a limited capacity gave me some hope,” said Booker. “We were so close to opening. It’s just a hard pill to swallow.”
Campbell said she was in a little bit of shock when she found out. She didn’t believe that all the hard work that everyone put into the show, as well as the money for the set, costumes, props and fake blood, was now going to be for nothing.
“I really believed that no matter what happened, we had a show to put on,” Campbell said.
The Michigan State Department of Theatre was also putting on another show called “Marian, or the True Tale of Robin Hood.” The show was in its beginning stages of rehearsal and development. The department decided to postpone the show till next season with just a few members of the company to substitute for the leaving seniors.
Booker said Bonnets was essentially finished, and that they were able to have that experience and get something out of it. Now, the people in Marian can have that experience, too.
Bonnets may have never been shown to an audience, but the company expressed gratitude for what they experienced in the process.
Taylor stage-managed for the first time in college during this process, Booker was able to use the show as a part of her portfolio since the work was complete, and Campbell said she was able to learn and grow as an actress from the process.
“We still got everything out of it, we just didn’t get the validation part, which is our favorite part,” Campbell said.