A mother and daughter united, supporting their family. A kindergarten teacher learning to teach without a classroom and make friends without leaving his house. A couple planning a wedding without a guarantee that guests will be able to make it.
These interweaving pandemic stories coalesced in the student-produced musical “It Takes Time,” which played at Pomona College’s Seaver Large Studio from April 21 through April 23.
Annika Hoseth PO ’23, who served as the musical’s writer, producer, director and prop manager, was inspired by her own experience in the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I really like to write things that I have a really strong personal connection to and that relate to things that I’ve gone through,” Hoseth said. “So, once COVID happened and I was experiencing online school and having to maintain friendships virtually and losing out on opportunities and adopting a puppy for the first time, I was really inspired to write about those experiences … Once I had written down things that I knew firsthand, I was inspired to go beyond that.”
The play served as Hoseth’s directorial debut, which she found to be both challenging and fun.
“It’s always really hard to find directors. I feel like there aren’t as many at the 5Cs as there are shows sometimes, and so I was like, ‘Okay. If I want this show to happen, I probably just need to be the director,” Hoseth said. “It was more out of necessity. It was very exciting, but [there was] definitely a lot of trial and error and making mistakes and learning. I wasn’t expecting to love it this much.”
As a director, Hoseth also enjoyed collaborating with the cast, who she found to be helpful in bringing the themes of the show to life.
“[The cast is] super funny, and I really loved how I feel like they really got the message of the show,” she said. “They got how it was really genuine but also really funny and uplifting and also really honest throughout the pandemic.”
One cast member, Harold Fuson PZ ‘26, truly enjoyed playing his character, Greg, with the help of Hoseth.
“It was a really, really positive experience,” Fuson said. “I worked with Annika. We workshopped what my motivations were [and] what the story that doesn’t really get told in the script [was]. I just had a blast.”
In the musical, Hoseth’s character Greg is a Kindergarten teacher who struggles to connect with his students in the Zoom format and to form friendships during the pandemic. Throughout his journey, Greg bonds with a puppy he adopts and strikes up a romance with his mailman.
Fuson loved his character because of his humor and his insight into a teacher’s perspective on virtual teaching.
I really like to write things that I have a really strong personal connection to and that relate to things that I’ve gone through. So, once COVID happened and I was experiencing online school and having to maintain friendships virtually and losing out on opportunities and adopting a puppy for the first time, I was really inspired to write about those experiences … Once I had written down things that I knew firsthand, I was inspired to go beyond that.”
“He’s a really, really funny character,” Fuson said. “He definitely does have a lot of growth throughout the show just navigating the whole online school thing, and I think it’s really cool … to tell that story from the perspective of a teacher. Obviously, the audience was largely comprised of students this weekend, and we all know what it was like to go through online school and Zoom school as a student.”
Hannah Lak SC ‘23 also found playing her character, Yvonne, to be rewarding. Yvonne is a mother to a teenage daughter and a restaurant owner who struggled to stay positive during the pandemic.
However, Lak did find getting into character and memorizing her songs to be somewhat difficult.
“I think it was a little challenging to get into the role at first because she’s very different from me,” Lak said. “Her humor is very different from mine and sometimes she’s very sarcastic in a way that I have not [been], so that was pretty tough, and I also haven’t sung this much ever in a musical before … Learning all of these different songs [and] the choreo and the acting and everything put together was definitely something new for me, but I loved it.”
Lak believes that the true significance of the play was in its positive attitude toward hardship.
“[The play] is very optimistic,” Lak said. “A lot can be going wrong in your life but … remember to keep in mind that there are always little things that you can look forward to and that can go your way.”
On a similar note, Fuson wants audience members to have left the play knowing that the pandemic could inspire all types of people to change their lives for the better.
“[The audience] should take away that the pandemic was an opportunity for lots of growth,” Fuson said. “Instead of focusing on the really, really sad and unfortunate and terrible, terrible moments in 2020 to 2021, and while recognizing that those happened and it’s important to reflect on them, it’s also important to reflect on the positive and the growth that came out of it as well.”
From Hoseth’s perspective, though, the play’s message is that even in times of pain or struggle, people can live for the little moments of joy and hope.
“I really think that the show is about those more nuanced moments where maybe you’re actually learning something in the pandemic or maybe you’re making a new friend or you’re becoming closer to somebody or you’re changing something about your life that wasn’t working and appreciating all of that at once,” Hoseth said. “You don’t have to stop being sad about it, but you can feel multiple things at once and know that everybody is there with you.”
Harold Fuson is a sports writer for TSL.