Behind The Scenes: Cinderella
March 10, 2017
The cast of Cinderella worked hard to try and make the production an amazing one. As the cast rehearsed the scenes, the director, Ms. Ahern, added movements and corrected or fixed emotions as they went. After every correction, the cast tackled the scene to make it perfect. At the head of the room was a table where the production crew and Ms. Ahern would sit and watch the actors. The production crew would take notes and give lines while Ms. Ahern watched and made suggestions. During one rehearsal she gave the cast a lesson on how to walk and bow to make Cinderella as historically correct as possible. At the beginning of rehearsal, one student would lead the rest of the cast in physical and then vocal warmups. After the warm ups the cast would split into two groups: the characters that are in the scene would go up in front of the table and the rest would either go to the back room to work on lines or stand by the production crew waiting to rehearse. All other emotions would instantly change as the actors progress and transform into their characters. The mood was very easy going and comfortable as the crew laughed with actors during the scenes.
All the platforms, stairs, and props that were on the stage were built by the LVA set crew. The crew stayed after school and put in many hours to build all the major props that include the banners, horns, flower baskets and bouquets. For this show there were 15 people on crew including prop head and tech major, Megan Cannon, 12. To make the staircase, the set crew worked in an assembly line: as one person cut the metal they passed the pieces along to the next person who welded them together.
Students were working on building the main platform, and it was a lot more than just cutting pieces and welding. They had to make sure everything was the right measurement and was squared up before they could weld the pieces. Tech major Kevin Navarrete, 11, was the technical director for Cinderella. Kevin was responsible for assigning jobs to people and was the one that people went to when they had questions or didn’t know how to finish a job.
Tech major Tyler Angelo, 10, was the master welder for Cinderella. “Everything that gets welded and everything that’s being decided to get welded goes through me, and I get to put ideas to make the show better,” said Tyler. “A lot of the props for Cinderella are made of steel so being the master welder of the musical, especially as a sophomore, is a big deal,” he said. Being the master welder he has had to give up several activities including friends’ parties, after school activities, and lunch time, “There are a lot of sacrifices but it’s worth it,” Tyler said.
One of the most important parts of the show was lighting, but pulling it all together was not as easy as it seemed. First, the light crew had to strip the electricity, which means they had to take the lights off the electrics so they could add the new ones for the new show. Depending on how big the previous show was would determine how long it would take the crew to strip the electrics.
The crew needed to make sure that everything was balanced on the grid, which is a big metal cage that the lights are hung on, to keep it from falling on stage. The grid weighs between 1,000-1,500 pounds, so it is imperative that everyone worked in sync.
The school has also purchased two new projectors for Cinderella. Graphic design major, Sydney Burns,11, was the team leader on creating the interior of the palace. Sydney was responsible for making sure her crew met deadlines and she tested the projections with the actors. The design crew used a technique called photo compositing. This is when the crew would find photos off of the internet, then cut what they needed out and put them together. “Its like scrap booking,” said Sydney. LVA has used projections before but this was the first time that the theatre department has integrating multiple projectors into one show. In total there was three projectors; one that handled the entire back wall of the theatre, one that created the false proscenium arch, and the last one was rear projected onto the platform.
The light department was really trying to achieve projection along with lights to make the experience outstanding. LVA bought the last lens system of its kind in North America. The new lens system allowed it so that when they are projecting down and the screen is flat, they can actually tilt the image. Tech major Austin Bond, 10, said, “Projection is really the way to the future.”
Behind every LVA production is the production crew who is in charge of running rehearsals, making rehearsal reports, making calls and creating calendars, and taking notes of everything that’s ever happening in the entire show.
Tech major Emily Sheehy, 12, was the stage manager for Cinderella. “I run rehearsals, I keep communication between the directors, designers, and the cast,” said Sheehy. Her two assistant stage managers, musical theater major Renae Losee, 11, and tech major Brendan Sudberry, 11, were in charge of taking notes on blocking, so the production crew knew where each actor would be at all times.
From the rehearsals, to actors, to lights, Sheehy ran the entire show. “I call the entire show, so I call lighting cues, so every light that changes, sound that you hear, and everything like that, that’s all me,” she said. Being the stage manager definitely had its share of sacrifices. Besides sacrificing her grades, Sheehy sacrificed a lot of her time with her family and friends. “It’s so hard to be somebody’s friend because you’re working with students who are equal to you in the classroom but then you’re their manager,” she said. It is especially difficult being a senior and not having any free time to audition for colleges or even balancing grades and the show.
She had taken two years of a stage managing class, that is now offered as arts management at LVA, to get her first stage managing position. Sheehy did little jobs to show her leadership and independence. In the past she was the crew head for light crew. She created fake paperwork to show Ms.Ahern that she could handle the papers and would talk to Ms.Ahern all the time. They would talk about Sheehy’s passion for theatre and the substance behind the shows while she would also share her ideas or thoughts about the shows with Ms.Ahern.
Sheehy was also the stage manager for Rent and Crimes of the Heart. She has gained a lot of her inspirations from past stage managers at LVA. Without the production crew, the productions we do at LVA would never come out the way they do. These students have dedicated a lot of time and effort to create these amazing shows. Sheehy said, “At first I was a little unsure but I’m feeling really good about it, it’s going to be a beautiful show.”
Sound is something that audience members normally take for granted. They don’t realize all the work that gets put into what is heard, but it is a lot more than just plugging in a couple microphones. Backstage there were a few boxes stacked on top of each other, those are called racks.
The actors each had their own microphone and the sound that went into the microphone would be sent back to the rack. From there, the sound goes to the soundboard, which then goes to the audience. When the sound goes to the soundboard the sound crew could manipulate what the audience heard, this is called live mixing. Live mixing is when the sound crew alters the sound at the board to make some mics louder or quieter and sometimes add effects to some mics.
Backstage the sound crew had wireless assistants ready to switch a microphone if it failed or to switch a battery pack. It was tech major Theresa Ramos’s, 12, job to make sure her crew knew what to do in that situation. Theresa had taught her crew how to set up the racks, how to ensure that they stayed balanced backstage, and had given them a hands on learning experience on how to test the battery packs and how to assign the microphones to each person.
Two weeks before Cinderella opened the sound system began to break. One of drives in the main speakers that the vocals went through broke, and the theatre department had to order new parts to fix it. The speakers were slowly breaking because of years of use and just finally broke that week. That was very frustrating for the crew because they were so close to opening night. There was a lot of talk amongst students that the show would have to be cancelled but the theatre faculty fixed the speakers that weekend and Cinderella continued on as planned. Theresa said, “I’m pretty nervous because it’s such a big show, but it’s going to be really cool.”
The design crew handled making costumes, doing the hair, and doing the makeup for the show. “You wouldn’t expect how much it impacts the character to wear the costumes,” said tech major Lissy McBrayer,10. The costume crew had made two to four costumes for each character. Each character had two outfits, a ball gown, and a peasant outfit but the title characters had many more.
The costumes needed to be done two weeks before the actual show started for dress rehearsals. The design crew pulled out old costumes from past productions that fit the time period and were rebuilding them for Cinderella.
The costume crew had created four transformation dresses for Cinderella. The dresses had magnets inside to make the transformations quick and easy. Each transformation was under 45 seconds.
The hair and makeup crew leaders had been teaching the crew about hygiene requirements in order to do their job right. Some requirements that the makeup crew had to follow included making that sure that any sponges they used never touched anyone else’s skin, and any Q tips that were used could only be used once, after that they were thrown out. The hair crew also had to follow requirements like making sure the bobby pins were on,y used for one person and none of the hair tools were touching anyone else’s hair. As for actually doing the hair and makeup they could not just do what they wanted, they had to communicate to the costume crew and even the light crew and planned out their looks then. “You have to be able to collaborate with everyone and everything has to correspond so we have to be flexible,” said tech major Aviona Barrientos, 12. This was the first year that hair and makeup crew have been split, in past productions it was all one crew. The leader of hair crew, tech major Angelina Le,12, was responsible for designing all the looks for the show, she taught the crew about cleanliness, and taught the crew basic hairstyles like braids and how to properly curl and straighten hair. Angelina said, “It’s our job to teach them. It’s okay to make a mistake but they need to know how to fix it.”
Pit band received their music over a month before opening night and had been working on it until the night it opened. For orchestra majors, Kate Pangilinan, 9, and Frances Hartzell, 9, that was an all new, exciting experience. “We take [rehearsals] at a comfortable pace and we get a lot done,” said Kate.
The members in the band were responsible for learning the music on their own time so during the rehearsals the band could focus on the quality of the sound rather than the notes. The band worked in a rotation so the whole band would learn the music and when they started to rehearse in the pit, they were split into two groups so that the same people were not playing every song. The pit was also too small to hold the entire band at one time; this year there are about 70 members in the band.
Students who are in philharmonic are required to be in the pit band, but other students were asked by the conductors to be in the band. Overall the band was required to learn 49 songs for the musical. All of their rehearsals were held in the band room until two weeks before opening night, they moved to the pit to practice with the cast. “I know that it will be hard,” said Frances, “but it’ll be worth it and I actually feel very fortunate to be able to be in the pit as a freshman.”