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Behind the Scenes of UC High’s Theatre Department

Micahrae Osteria, Features Editor

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   Year after year, our Performing Arts Department comes out with amazing productions. These productions, whether it be the annual winter play or the spring musical, showcase the many talents of our very own UC High students. The Theatre Department definitely goes out of their way to give us fantastic productions, but what exactly goes on behind the scenes?

   The first steps to creating a theatrical production start with choosing a play or musical.  “In prior years, we have chosen musicals based on the skills of the students in our program and the complexity of the show. This year, we took those factors into account and also opened the process to a Performing Arts club vote. The club chose Bye Bye Birdie as a best fit for this season,” said Theatre Director Matt Moody.

   Then, after the production choice is settled, auditions begin. Auditions typically go on for up to a week. This is where the real stars emerge. “Auditions are just finding the best people to fit each role, so if I don’t get a certain role, I know the person who was chosen would probably be better suited for the production. Besides, after auditions, it’s a completely collaborative group effort,” Senior Jaimelyn Cruz said.

   After each role has been assigned, the real fun begins. Grueling practices are the norm in rehearsals, but those involved know it’ll all be worth it in the end. “We have about two months of rehearsal. The first month is just us learning where we’re going in a scene and who our characters are and what’s going on in the basic gist of the musical.  We start basic choreography for the big numbers,” said Junior Logan Quessenberry.

   Well alright, the first month doesn’t sound too bad. In fact, it sounds pretty fun. “[From there] we move on to the second month of the rehearsals. We start deeper characterization, along with memorizing lines and finishing up choreography. We’re really diving into the show,” Quessenberry continued.

   Rehearsals come with their own hurdles as well. “Rehearsals run on average two and half hours everyday for two months, with rehearsals stretching later into the evening within the last two weeks before the opening of a show. In addition to rehearsals, there are hundreds of tech hours for set, sound, lights, programs, fundraising, costuming, makeup, and promoting the musical,” said Moody.

   “A week before the show, we have tech week, which is definitely when rehearsals get exceptionally hard. You have to go through the whole show each day and it’s really taxing. We have to stop to fix the costumes, fix the lights, fix the blocking, and fix the dances,” explained Quessenberry. There’s so many things to worry about, but the theatre department always pulls through. The only thing going through their heads is that all this work will result in an amazing show, and they’re right! We’re continuously getting extraordinary theatre productions one after another.

   The impressive sets that they have for each performance have definitely caught your eye once or twice; don’t lie. These gorgeous sets come with a price though — hours and hours of work. “Sets take many hours to plan, many hours to design, and up to 100 hours give or take to build and paint,” said Moody. “Creating the set definitely takes a lot of time and it’s definitely a long process in building them and setting them up.

   For Bye Bye Birdie in particular, we’ve needed to make connections with several people outside of school and organize times where a lot of students could help paint and build,” said Cruz. Imagine trying to balance school work and helping out backstage, in addition to actually being in the production — that’s a whole lot of things to remember.

   Behind it all are the “unsung heroes” of the theatre production — the backstage crew. “The backstage crew is vital to a show’s success. They change the sets, set up props, and are there to make the show run more smoothly. We need all the stage crew we can get for a show, especially if there are a lot of set changes. Also, there are people who control the lights and sounds, and they are very important as well,” said Cruz. Sound like a lot so far? Don’t worry, it gets better. “Backstage, you have crew running around, making sure everything is where it needs to be. It’s all very hectic, and that’s not even mentioning lights, along with core rehearsals and practicing our lines,” said Quessenberry. “You have the crew, who are the unsung heroes. They put the props for the scene before the scene starts, and when there’s a blackout, you have the crew running out there, putting the props down and then running back,” he continued. While the audience only sees what’s on stage, there’s a million other things happening in the back, and the people running it deserve to be noticed as well.

   Due to all of this hard work, the theatre department comes out with productions that blow us all away. “It’s hard to think of only one thing that’s most challenging. A private theatre will hire 10-20 people to do all of the jobs that we handle with one Performing Arts cast and crew. The most challenging part is bringing everything and everyone together while at the same time having fun and living the experience with a spirit of inquiry and adventure,” said Moody.

   “My favorite part about being in the Performing Arts Department is being able to put myself out there. I love to sing and I love musical theatre, so it’s really the only place on campus where I can combine both,” said Cruz.

   “It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of work,” said Quessenberry.

   Yes, the UC High Performing Arts Department puts on impressive productions every year, but that can’t be achieved without countless hours of work and dedication from everybody involved. They all showcase many commendable skills, and they definitely deserve all the recognition in the world. Thank you for all the hard work you guys do. It’s definitely not going unnoticed.

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Behind the Scenes of UC High’s Theatre Department