AUGUSTA — Jasmine Farrington has yet to have a “Chizzle Wizzle” with a full audience.

Between this year and last, the coronavirus pandemic has gotten in the way of “normal.”

As a sophomore at Cony High School in Augusta, Farrington said she has yet to sing maskless at Chizzle Wizzle.

A spotlight follows Bri Harriman as she sings “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from “Funny Girl” while walking Saturday from the back of auditorium to the stage during the Chizzle Wizzle recording session at Cony High School in Augusta. The other performers were the only people in the audience. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

But COVID-19 has yet to stop Chizzle Wizzle, which this year celebrates its 130th performance.

“There was only one year in the past where there wasn’t a show, and it was a year there was a war,” said producer Lindsey Morin, “so we were really committed to seeing this through. If there were kids who wanted to perform, we wanted to support and continue for legacy reasons.”

Chizzle Wizzle began in the late 1890s as a fundraiser for the Cony football team. Drawing on the community, it has continued ever since.

Farrington’s siblings attended Cony and her mother almost took part in Chizzle Wizzle when in high school, but Jasmine is the first of her family to perform in the event.

The show is split into halves: Olio, which consists mostly of variety acts of comedy, dance and song, and The Showcase, which consists of a full chorus, solo performances and a duet. But this year, Chizzle Wizzle will just be a showcase performance for singers.

Only 15 students have decided to be a part of the production this year, a fraction of the 200 or so who usually participate in performances or production, according to Morin.

Morin said students are trying to focus on what is certain in their lives amid the pandemic’s uncertainty, especially after last year’s event, where it was rescheduled just days before the planned performance due to COVID-19. It was postponed to May, then to June, when it was recorded and shown virtually.

This year, the show was filmed Saturday and is to be streamed on Channel 7 for the community to watch.

“It wasn’t going to be the normal performance and more focused on singers,” Morin said. “A lot of them could think: ‘If I’m going to college, I’m going to focus on that and get that done. I know the future with that.’ With this, we weren’t certain for a while. We thought we would have the kids participate on Google Meet.”

The theme for this year: “The Sign of the Times.”

Farrington said last week she was planning to sing “I Dare You” by Kelly Clarkson because it was written during COVID-19 quarantining.

“I thought it was a good one to do because there’s this one line — ‘You may not have a stage, but you have a voice’ — and I wanted to sing so much, but I wasn’t able to,” Farrington said.

The production system screen shows Steve Scoville as seen from TV-7’s three cameras Saturday, while he records the introductions to each Chizzle Wizzle performance at Cony High School in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

Production plans for this year’s Chizzle Wizzle have Brooklynn Merrill, a senior and president of this year’s event, open the show in a duet with her sister, singing Harry Styles’ “Sign of the Times.”

“Starting in fifth grade, I attended Chizzle Wizzle each year,” Merrill said. “At that time, I was a dancer and there were high school students at my studio who performed. I looked up to those dancers and knew I wanted to be involved somehow.

“I have been active in the production, planning and performance aspects of the show throughout high school. Chizzle Wizzle unites athletes, musicians, artists and technology gurus and I will miss that community when I graduate.”

Morin said it was difficult for the students to rehearse this year because of the coronavirus guidelines from the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention. At the start of the year, the CDC only allowed students to sing outside if wearing masks, but guidelines have been amended recently to allow singing inside, with a mask.

Regulations did allow for students to meet after school with Morin and music teacher Shannon Chase for rehearsal. Morin said it was difficult at first to only hear the students virtually because the audio is not accurate. Meeting in person allowed Chase to help the singers choose the keys in which they would perform.

Chizzle Wizzle usually takes place in March, with rehearsals beginning in October. Morin and Chase decided to move the program to May so students would have time to practice along with their hybrid learning.

Bri Harriman sings “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from “Funny Girl” on stage Saturday during the Chizzle Wizzle recording session at Cony High School in Augusta. The other performers were the only people in the audience. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

“It hasn’t been easy,” Morin said. “Initially, Ms. Chase began practicing with students over Zoom or Meet.”

They were able to keep the tradition of having seven “Ends,” a solo performance, and two “Alternatives,” a duet. Morin said Ends and Alternatives usually are in the Olio section of Chizzle Wizzle, but this year were incorporated into the showcase performance.

Morin said she hoped the challenging pandemic years for the event and students, particularly younger ones, will not deter them or others from participating in Chizzle Wizzle in the future.

“I would love to do it,” Farrington said. “Last year, we got so close to doing it, and I feel like it would be amazing.”

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