Musicals don’t always require the same complex sets that other productions do, but this does not restrict the “Beauty and the Beast” set crew. They have been working on the sets for East’s rendition of the timeless musical since early November. Their crew of 18 students is one of the largest groups the department has seen, and they have gotten the most of this size in spending as much time as possible on the set.
The set crew is important: it highlights the cast and helps them portray the story. The crew wants the audience to enjoy themselves and be entertained while viewing the actors in an aesthetically pleasing environment.
Co-crew chiefs sophomores Josh Light and Dani Mader are the ones to push the crew to meet their deadlines. The two agree that the set crew is the starting point for many who participate in the theater programs.
“Set is where everyone funnels through and then branches out into other crews or higher positions,” Mader said. “We both fell in love with this part, so we stayed here instead.”
This is both of the sophomores’ first time in a leadership position, and fifth production working together on a show. Their role is one that gives them the ability to guide the others in the group to do what they are told and get their projects done on time.
The crew cannot build every set all by themselves; they sometimes use pre-made, borrowed props, which has created some additional problems.
“One of the most stressful situations we have gone through so far is that one of the borrowed sets was hurt,” Mader said. “It took multiple weeks to fix, since it was not built to be broken.”
Just like other crews, the members are hard at work every day after school for multiple hours. They are also working from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., or even 7 p.m. on Saturdays.
“We are making sure that the set pieces get out there on time and that they are what the directors want and the cast can use them properly,” Light said. “We are also backstage the entire show and the paint crew to helps to move them on stage and off.”
Since most of the show’s workers are friends, they all want to make sure that no one has to carry too much responsibility or feel too much stress.
“Our crew will do anything,” Mader said. “We design the entire sets ourselves so it is cool that we all enjoy that design element.”
According to Light, his goal outside of a smooth-running show is to make art.
“Theater really is an art, and it is amazing how much creativity we receive with this job,” Light said.
These individual goals also play into the time the group spends together as a single entity. Both Mader and Light say that all the time that the crew has put into the production has made them closer as a group.
“We hang out all the time because we all have grown up through theater together,” Mader said. “We are like a huge family, and being here is the highlight of my day.”
The musical’s costume crew brushes aside the occasional negative comment about how they are not a serious crew with one phrase: “Without us, you would be naked.”
The costume crew deals with all the clothing within the show. They must measure every cast member, and although they have some expensive rented costumes, they have to create the remaining ones.
The breaks they take help this crew trudge through their deadlines. Although they say they are looked down upon at times for this, it is what they do to keep away from stress and to really get their tasks done. Sophomore Jesse Burnes and senior Polly Mytinger, co-crew chiefs, are the leaders for the group and help the others out by making executive decisions about the acting cast’s apparel.
“Working on the costumes crew can be either really easy or really hard, because you have to interact with the cast the entire time,” Burnes said.
Both agree that it is rewarding to see their clothing on stage or receive compliments on their hard work and the outfits they have created to fit the show’s storyline. But according to Burnes, it was hard to interact with those individuals whom have short fuses.
“It is stressful when the cast is snappy with you or are unwilling to be helpful,” Burnes said. “You really need to be able to deal with people’s issues with a lot of patience.”
One of their most stressful days was the day of the Rockhurst-East basketball game. The rented costumes that had come in that day. The cast was rushing to get out of the rehearsal early and get to the game, and many of the new costumes were lost or misplaced. After a long period of searching and bickering, the costumes were found and they were able to relax.
“We were so worried because there were only so many days for the cast to practice with them,” Burnes said.
Despite a few mishaps, this group of 11 students finds confidence within each other, and the members help each other out whenever help is needed.
“We have an awesome group of people for this show,” Burnes said. “Everyone gets along and is ‘weird,’ but we all share great work ethic.”
According to sophomore crew member Kim Hoedel, members of the crew should have somewhat of a background in sewing before joining, seeing as there is a lot of work involved with working on the extensive amount of costumes in the show.
The chiefs agree that they are similar to the set crew: they both make what the audience sees and help to tell the story that the cast is trying to portray. Even when they are not participating in the actual show, they still want to help out because each enjoys staying involved in the theater and making lasting memories there.
“I will remember all the thank you’s from the cast and crew members on the adjustments on the costumes,” Burnes said.
The lights crew has been worrying the past couple weeks over the question of whether the show will be a success. Unlike many of the other crews in the production, the lights crew is not completely done until the lights go out at the end of the production; they are constantly running cues throughout the entire show.
Junior Mallory Harrington, assistant crew chief for the musical, has been working on lights crew since her freshman year. For “Beauty and the Beast,” she will be in the booth running the control board that cues the lights, which is usually the job of the crew chief; this year, crew chief Ricky Latshaw will be helping with some of the special effects (like fog and dry ice) on the main stage. Harrington has worked in many different positions within the theater in the past, being on “run crew” three times (“Woyzeck,” “Grapes of Wrath,” and “Arsenic and Old Lace”), serving as assistant crew chief (“Footloose”) and co-crew chief of lights (“Machinal”) once before.
“I think that this show has a lot of potential–the cast is full of really talented performers and all of the tech elements are really cool,” Harrington said. “The tricky part will be pulling everything together [the week of the musical] and making it run smoothly. I think by [Feb. 3, the night of the first performance] it will be an awesome show.”
The lights are run by a group of around seven students on the crew. The jobs received on lights crew are four spotlight operators, two backstage running the effects, and one board operator.
“I like lights crew because each production brings a completely new experience, and there is always more to learn about lights,” Harrington said.
According to Harrington, the lights add a lot of new, interesting effects in this musical, especially during the transformations; it adds “magic” to the show. But with this magic-making comes a lot of stress.
“Because of the snow days, there has been some added stress about getting things done,” Harrington said. “[Show week] is really important for coordinating shifts and large dance numbers.”
Despite blizzards taking away rehearsal time, the pressure to get things pulled together helps the crew operate well in a short amount of time. Crew members say this stress pays off tenfold when they experience the satisfying moment once the final performance is complete.