[Nov. 2016 Arts] Bringing backstage into centerstage

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By Kaya Leitner ’19

 

The audience of “The Music Man” gave a standing ovation Sunday afternoon to applaud the efforts of the performers as they bowed in unison to commence the show. Spirits remained high as the crowd continued to cheer for their favorite roles as the actors and actresses skipped forward and clapped on beat to the tune of the music. All the while little attention was paid to the feverish work that occurred back stage to assemble the show with fluidity.

Brooke Githens ’19, an audience member, commented on the responsibility and anonymity of the backstage crew in the production of “The Music Man.”

“The tech crew was absolutely crucial to the show because they were required to make the major numbers run smoothly regarding props and setting,” Githens said. “But when you walk out of the show the actors’ jobs really resonate and you don’t really notice tech’s efforts as much.”

The backstage staff devotes their time to enhancing the show in every aspect except for acting. According to Juliette Schwebel ’19, a performer in “The Music Man,” these vital members of the Players community lack the accolades she believes they deserve.

“They definitely deserve more credit than they receive. They work almost as many, if not the same or more, hours than the actors do, but usually what people remember about the shows are the performances,” Schwebel said. “The shows so far have been amazing and [the backstage staff] are largely to thank for that.”

Backstage staff worker Joe Xiang ’19 commented on the commitment of the position and sense of pride he feels despite the relative anonymity of his position.

“I enjoy it. It’s really rewarding at the end to see all of the pieces of the show be put together. I feel like our work does go somewhat unrecognized to the audience because all they see is the wonderful performance that is being put on,” Xiang ’19 said. “They don’t see all the small things that happen during a blackout, or during the show itself that are done by backstage.”

The backstage crew’s responsibilities include lighting, stage set design, sound production, costumes, makeup and other aspects of production, all of which are significant to the assembly of the show.

The backstage workers understand that the performances would be impossible without their efforts. They take their satisfaction from the final product rather than the applause or attention provided by the audience.

“Without us, there’s nobody pointing lights at the actors, there’s nobody getting our massive set pieces ready to go on and off stage. If we weren’t there, actors would never be able to carry out all of the stuff that we help them to do,” Xiang said.

The cast and crew have been feverishly working in unison to pull off a successful show. Amanda Samuels ’19, a performer in “The Music Man,” commented on their preparation.

“Everyone worked incredibly hard to make the show a success,” Samuels said. “Although it has been stressful, I know that everyone’s hard work definitely paid off, and I have heard amazing things from the viewers.”