Stage crew fights to finish two shows

Sean White
staff writer

This fall, the theatre department is putting on two different productions instead of one, debuting two weeks apart from each other. Each show will have a separate cast, director and set, but the same stage crew.

The already hectic production process will be further complicated by the inclusion of two shows. The directors must share the same stage for entirely different shows. English teacher Jessica Speck is directing a fantastical play about Dungeons and Dragons called She Kills Monsters , and chorus teacher Keith Schwartz is directing the well-known High School Musical.

Speck said that in her eight years of directing shows here, various numbers and types of shows have been included in the fall lineup. Originally, she was drawn to the theatre program because they put on two shows every fall, but eventually the program shifted away from this practice as Speck experimented with curricular plays and other drama-related events. Despite having some experience putting on two shows in the fall, Speck said that they usually had at least a month in between productions, saying that “this is the closest we’ve ever done.”

The actors are generally excited for the two shows. Putting on performances with separate casts allows more actors to secure a leading role, and the contrasting themes and tones of the shows allow actors to choose which show interests them and plays to their strengths. As actor and senior Hannah Mikowski said, “By having the opportunity to try out for one of the shows and not the other … [her] peers had a fairly good chance of getting cast in the show they wanted.”

Despite each show having its own director and cast, they both share the same crew, giving the crew members twice the work to accomplish in a short amount of time. The crew must build a singular set that fits the content of both shows, and only have two weeks between shows to make technical changes for the second show. As lighting designer and senior Ben Mash said, “We won’t have much time to change anything after the set is completed, which means that we have to make sure all of the lights are aimed properly to account for the location of the set ahead of time.”

Putting on two shows has its benefits. Each show will bring in its own revenue, potentially adding to the theatre department’s spring budget, especially with a show as well known as High School Musical. Also, the increased number of opportunities means more seniors acting in the show get a lead role before leaving for college, and crew members who work both shows have a larger resume.

Two productions set so close together presents a unique set of challenges for the theatre department. Crew has little time to create complicated fantasy props and costumes for She Kills Monsters. Although actors only participate in one show, crew has nearly a month of lengthy tech rehearsals as they must prepare for one show immediately after the other.

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