Erie County

The show must go on; Teacher uses technology to give seniors spring musical


Sandusky Central Catholic School students were scheduled to perform Hello! My Baby as the spring musical. Because of the pandemic, it looked like another event that wouldn’t be possible. However, Matt Hadsell, the director of music at SCCS, had an idea to make sure the show would go on. He went to work on an animated version of the show with the students still lending their voices to the musical.

“I was motivated primarily by the seniors. When COVID happened and it became apparent that they would not get to enjoy many of the memories seniors often get, I wanted to find some way to show how much effort these kids had gone through,” said Hadsell. “I’m also really motivated by all my students. They don’t have to take my classes or join my groups, they do so because they like making music and if I can, I want to give them as many opportunities as possible to do that so they have the ability to express themselves fully.”

“I commend Matt for putting in the extra time to make sure we were able to have our musical,” said Ryan Wikel, principal of sixth through 12th. “The students did a great job getting Matt the material and he took it to the next level. I am proud of all that were involved in making our musical a success under rare circumstances.”

This would be a tremendous undertaking for Hadsell.

“So, needless to say, animation takes a really long time. I started researching if we would even be able to animate it. I didn’t say anything to anyone affiliated with the school because I wasn’t sure if we’d be going back or even if I could make it happen. But I talked with a few people who I had known from college who had written some music of animated shorts and started looking at the available software. Eventually, I settled on Vyond Studios, because it had a layout I could easily navigate and had the necessary features to make the musical happen. That being said, I definitely took that software to its limit. I told the actors and had them send me audio files of them reading their lines and singing along to the rehearsal tracks.

Once I got all the necessary audio, I put it into the software, then downloaded each scene individually, put an audio and visual filter over it. All in all, it was essentially 12 hour days every day until it was done. I’m not an expert in animation but I hope I did right by the students.”

As Hadsell mentioned, he was motivated to do this because of the seniors.

“There were four seniors who were a part of the original production, that being Bella Dinsmore, Abby Grant, Owen Helmkamp and Billy Tyler. Billy was a part of the stage crew so sadly, he wasn’t able to help us with the final production, but he did in his own way by messaging me every morning, asking if he could help in any way. Bella plays the role of Betty Gold, who impersonates a man, Buddy O’Reilly. Abby plays Francis Gold, Betty’s oldest sister who’s uplifted when she meets her idealistic and loving boyfriend. Owen took over the role of Bert Coots, whose lines are guaranteed to make you laugh.”

Hello! My Baby was released through email and the SCCS social media platforms. Hadsell is also currently working on putting together audio for a “Not So Spring Concert” that will be released later this summer.

For questions, contact Mike Lilje or call at 419-626-1892, ext. 314.