Theatre crews carry show

It’s the end of the show, lights go down and the actors let out a sigh. A few minutes later, as the orchestra finishes the exit music, another, louder sigh is released.

A view from the "catwalk" where lights are positioned  for the production.

A view from the “catwalk” where lights are positioned for the production.

This sigh stems from the large group behind the scenes of every production: the “tech crew.” This crew manages any and everything the actors and the director need to produce the show. Because this is such a massive job, the technical aspect of the theatre is split into many smaller crews.

First, in the scene shop, construction crew, headed by Dylan Simonson ’14, builds the set.

Next, the set travels to Sam Roll ’15’s paint crew who make the set look plausible. They also paint backdrops as well as add signs and details.

This is the Heritage scene shop. Here sets are built and painted.

This is the Heritage scene shop. Here sets are built and painted.

Meanwhile in the green room, Meg Claren ’14 and Elizabeth Zartman ’14 lead their costume crew to create era-appropriate garments for the cast.

In the green room, the cast tries many costumes for optimal character advancement.

In the green room, the cast tries many costumes for optimal character advancement.

“I get to make people I find funny look stupid,” says Zartman, explaining the benefits of her job.

After paint, the set is placed on stage so that the lighting crew can optimally highlight key points of the scene and get a general idea of the actors’ blocking (position on stage). During a show, spotlights are manned on the upper walkway of the house. The other lights are operated in the same place but must be positioned in the “catwalk,” a narrow walkway above the first few rows of seats, before opening night.

“It’s like a treehouse… only bigger,” describes Davis Bonner ’16.

A view looking down the cat walk. The stage is below the left side.

A view looking down the cat walk. The stage is below the left side.

In order to make the set look more realistic, actors usually have props. These props are obtained or built by senior Logan Jackman’s crew who take everyday objects and make them look like other objects.

During all of this work by various crews, junior Silje Hayes and senior Bella Taylor lead their publicity crew to decorate the showcase, hang posters and spread the word about the musical.

At the dress rehearsals, the cast acts and dances around the set. Their voices and the orchestra are picked by microphones that are under the jurisdiction of sound crew, lead by Nichole Martinez ’14. They spend a great deal of time balancing the speaking, singing, music and sound effects. They control the sound live from the sound booth at the top of the house and they must have a light touch.

This is the top walkway of the house. From here the crews man the spotlights and the sound mixing board on the table.

This is the top walkway of the house. From here the crews man the spotlights and the sound mixing board on the table.

“I remember the time we blew out a speaker for ‘I Remember Mamma’,” recounts Taylor McGrew ’16.

On the day of the show, senior Bella Taylor’s make up crew prepares the actors’ faces to help actors assume character. More importantly, they add “character lines” around the eyes, mouth and nose to keep definition in actors’ faces under bright stage lights. Make Up also creates epoch-appropriate hair for the actors.

During the show, the set is moved on and off stage by the black-dressed running crew lead by Natalie Brereton ’14. They also control the raising and lowering of sense via the system of cables called the “fly system.”

Here is the fly system as seen from above. The pipes support lights, flats and curtains.

Here is the fly system as seen from above. The pipes support lights, flats and curtains.

To ensure a professional looking show, junior Bryce VanVleet’s stage managers keep the interactions between actors and the crews well-oiled as well as maintain a professional atmosphere back stage.

Other crews include the house crew that maintains the house during the show and the orchestra that plays any live music required for a show. After the last show for a production, all crews sigh as the last task to do is mindless clean-up work.

The pit is where the orchestra plays numbers for the musicals. The conductor sits on the platform on the right of the picture.

The pit is where the orchestra plays numbers for the musicals. The conductor sits on the platform on the right of the picture.

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