Crews set the scene for fall musical

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Crews set the scene for fall musical

Graphic by Sabrina Mei

Graphic by Sabrina Mei

Graphic by Sabrina Mei

Grace Comer and Janet Choi, Senior Arts Writer and Arts Writer

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Behind the glamor of a live performance are numerous crews hard at work that the audience may never see. This preparation has already begun in earnest as the RM Black Maskers kick off the fall season with “The Addams Family.” From costumes to lighting, each crew plays a crucial role in making these live performances happen.

Each crew has many responsibilities, and the average day varies for each of them. “It depends on your crew on how intense it can get,” junior Erin Sanders, the assistant technical director, said. “House only meets on show nights, but set con meets right away.”

The aforementioned set construction crew begins well in advance of the performances, because set must be completed before the final week of dress rehearsals begins on Nov. 1. All the crew members are required to come after school daily to work on the set. “What we’re working on now is a torture chair for one of the Addams family, and so we were making the stand for it and then today we’re going to make the platform where like the person’s going to be chained up to,” junior Lynn Yan, a member of the crew, said. “Other people are working on the buildings and stuff.”

Costumes is another crew that gets an early start. “At the start we pick out outfits from our clothes closet and just plan out each character,” sophomore Cindy Le, a member of the costumes crew, said. “We could be adjusting the costumes to fit each character properly for all the main characters, background characters and extras.”

In running crew, members must practice all the set and prop changes. “A typical day in running crew will involve locating set pieces, marking the spots on the stage, and practicing runs,” senior Theo Saywell, chief of the running crew, said. “It is vital that everything is done cleanly and quickly.”

The unique responsibilities of each crew get members thinking about all the details that go into the production of a show. “You have to learn about where we’re going to place this instrument in this particular way, or we’re going to put it on this side of the stage, or that side of the stage, or what are the complementary colors that we can use on the back parts of the stage to make it look prettier, to get that atmosphere correct,” senior Alisa Leung, technical director and chief of the lighting crew, said.

Each crew even develops their own sort of personality. “We’re kind of like the mom crew, because we have a kettle for hot water, tea, cough drops for the actors and do anything extra to help,” Le said regarding the costumes crew.

Regardless of crew or position, every member faces their own challenges along the way. “Usually this doesn’t happen for long periods of time, but sometimes it just takes up a lot of your time, and it’s like your main focus,” Sanders said.

My favorite part is seeing the final end result as our show nights occur.”

— Alisa Leung

The stress of each individual area seems to culminate in tech week, the week before opening night in which all technical elements are present during rehearsal. “The long hours and commitment could be an issue for people so it’s a tricky balance,” Le said. “Tech week is last and full preparations for the show so we stay there for a week till 10 p.m.” Some crews spend a week staying after school for seven hours to put on dress rehearsals, while others must finish all of their work done before this week.

Yet despite the time consumption and the other challenges, crew members continue to work hard on the production, constantly collaborating to make show nights happen. “My favorite part is seeing the final end result as our show nights occur, and seeing how the process of our two months of work was able to be used for our show nights at the very end,” Leung said.

The drama program also provides everyone with valuable opportunities to meet new people and make new friends. “You get to work together with your crewmates, and it kind of forms a family bond,” Yan said.

Working on the musical is also a way for students to gain a new set of skills that they would otherwise be unable to develop. “Outside of school, it’s either you find a community show— but those are usually pretty low budget, and not many people are interested in them—or you have Broadway, but that’s very hard to get into,” Sanders said. “I love musicals and drama and all that, so it’s very fun to be able to actually do that, because outside of school you wouldn’t have many opportunities.”

The Black Maskers’ production of “The Addams Family” premieres on Nov. 8.

Correction: This article originally ran in the October 2019 print issue and incorrectly stated that “The Addams Family” premiered on Nov. 9, not Nov. 8.