For the past two weeks, I’ve been helping out at my school for the musical that they do each year. Every year at the high school the drama department comes up with a new story to perform for the community before the winter break. I was helping out with sound and lights for the show this year, so I got to see a lot of what goes on behind the production.
From what I could tell, the actual scriptwriting, dance choreography, and acting practice were done over the course of a few months before the actual rehearsals. Before our first rehearsal, we had to set up the stage and some stationary props. Since the acting was scripted for a stage that was larger than normal, we had to bring out some risers and wooden platforms to clamp and drill to the school’s original stage. We also brought in some rental equipment from the music store down the street because we needed a lot of microphones for the actors.
After setting up all of the equipment we had our first rehearsal over the weekend, and the main thing that we did was deciding who was going to be in charge of what during the show. We also discussed with the drama teacher about what kind of lighting and backdrops she wanted for each scene. I was eventually put in charge of changing the backdrops for each scene. The job itself isn’t too hard since all I do is press button to change a slide on the projector. However, I was told that is was important and I had to remember the cues to for when to switch the backdrop. New students like me weren’t put in charge of anything too difficult or important such as working the sound or light boards because that was left for the senior students.
The next few days were spent actually going through the entire show in order to make sure that everyone knew what was going to happen for the day of performances. This gave us time to make notes on our own individual scripts for whatever we needed to do at specific times. Additionally, we were informed that we needed to make the show shorter for the elementary schools that would be coming in to watch during school hours. This caused a bit of trouble because we had to make sure we knew which part of the script to change to in order to cut certain parts out.
Fortunately, we didn’t have too many problems during our actual performances except for a few things that went wrong such as microphone feedback, actors missing them cues, and curtains not closing on time. I’d say the worst part about being part of the tech crew was that we had to come in pretty early in order to set everything up and we also had to sit through the show over five times. Apparently, it’s been a running joke that the tech crew memorizes some of the lines and choreography by the end of all the shows. You also end up getting all the musical numbers stuck in your head for a while.
In terms of the actual show’s quality, I’d say it was alright, but it definitely could’ve been better. I personally think that the show was a bit too long, and we should’ve had more time to work with the drama department before the actual showings. Additionally, the drama teacher wanted to make a speech at the end of the last show which she didn’t mention anything about until 15 minutes before the end. It ended up with a lot of microphone feedback and she ended up using one the actor’s microphones, so it could’ve been avoided in the first place anyways.
Overall, working on the show was pretty fun since I got to learn a bunch of new things and talk to some new people. The show was actually a slightly altered version of The Greatest Showman, but what I found interesting was that the actors in the drama department were singing the songs differently from the originals. In the end, it turned out okay and the school definitely put in a lot of time, effort, and expensive equipment for the show’s production.