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What happens BEHIND CURTAINS Theater Department gets ready for "Guys and Dolls"

Over 100 props, 74 costumes, 24 set items and rehearsals four days a week. With two months left, the Theater Department works more than eight hours a week to prepare for their spring musical—“Guys and Dolls,” a romantic comedy opening on April 11.

The production includes 87 members, all taking part in one out of seven categories: leadership, props, set, costumes, lights and sound, publicity and cast crew. With 38 characters, it’s easy for the audience to watch the performance and focus on the faces they see on stage. But, what is surprising is everything that happens behind the curtains.

THE BOSSES

As assistant director, senior Sarah Rygh is responsible for ‘blocking,’ advising the cast how to become their character. Rygh gives them notes on how they should walk and deliver their lines, what facial expressions they should have and how to show the character's motivation and attitude on stage. Rygh also spends time checking on the technical aspects of the production. However, Rygh considers her most important job to be a motivator, especially to the ensemble group, people who don’t have a lead in the play, and crew members like publicity.

“It’s really easy to feel unimportant or unwanted and when people realize that they are needed their flourish,” Rygh said. “I make sure ensemble knows the show wouldn’t make sense without them, I let them know that without them, people wouldn’t know the production exists.”

THE ACTORS

Senior Michael McNamara gained the role of Nathan Detroit, a gambler with the goal of setting up the biggest craps game in town. As rehearsal begin, 38 cast members, including McNamara, prepare to immerse themselves in their characters. Each rehearsal day is different—the day might consist of blocking, musical rehearsals or dance choreography for the production.

“I’m going through music rehearsals, memorizing all the music privately, then dance rehearsals learning all the musical numbers and then blocking to master the real characterizations,” McNamara said.

With other characters like fellow gambler, Sky Masterson, played by senior Vangeli Tsompanidis, McNamara has to impersonate a New York accent to bring his character to life. Although McNamara has had roles in plays since his freshman year, voicing the character’s accent is a struggle.

“For a character in a show like this, not only do you think about the character itself but also worry about doing his accent,” McNamara said. “It’s also difficult trying to become this character without all the pieces of the show being put together.”

(Top) Senior Michael McNamara and (bottom) freshman Andy Ayup practice their characters' lines before the opening scene. For McNamara, practicing his characters' New York accent before rehearsals helps him get into character faster.

COSTUMES CREW

Costumes coordinator sophomore Shannon Skelly goes through the costume closet and organizes costumes. Skelly, along with other members of the costume crew, used the costume closet as their first resource for replacing costumes.

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Costumes coordinators sophomore Shannon Skelly and sophomore Elizabeth Haupt strive for confidence in their cast. With a list of costumes needed, the costumes crew measures sizes for the cast, brainstorms ideas for small costumes props, and organizes all the multiple outfit each character needs. This time, the musical includes 37 cast members, each with at least two costumes needed.

“I’ve worked on costumes for three years now, but this time it’s a lot, and everything has to be big,” Skelly said. “In the past plays, it was easy because we just had to get simple stuff. Now, we need everything bright and things like a corset, giant pinstripe suits and fedoras and we need a lot of them.”

Costumes crew is also in charge of hair and make-up sets. After finding the costumes, they take a week coordinating what they want to do for hair and makeup styles for each cast member. But, while planning each character’s look, the crew prioritizes the cast’s comfortness and confidence.

“My main goal is making sure everyone is comfortable with the costumes and how they look,” Skelly said. “Costumes can look great, but if the person is not comfortable and they can’t move around in it, then it messes up the whole performance.”

SET CREW

Set coordinator, junior Kate-lyn Sullivan-Longo checks up on the set crew progress. Sullivan-Longo is in charge of making sure all pieces are put together correctly and managing the team, especially first-years freshmen Tessa Monroe (bottom left) and Marlie Tollefson (bottom right)

Senior Shawn Tluze had no previous experience in theater, let alone theater production. But, he did know how to cut wood, drill, and was able to build; all skills useful to construct the “Guys and Dolls” set.

Set coordinator, junior Kate-lyn Sullivan-Longo, gives direction to Tluze and 17 other students who are responsible for making five walls, two doors and a window. They also need to build five platforms for all these items to sit on, and they paint all set items.

All the products used to build the set, like wood and paint, are limited, which becomes a challenge for the crew members.

“The theater department isn’t funded by the school so we have limited wood and have to cut all the pieces just right because if we mess up, then that’s it,” Tluze said.

PROPS CREW

From an alcohol bottle (without the liquor) to paper cigars, the props crew is in charge of decorating the set. Having to make more than 100 props, the crew works just as hard on getting small props together like dice and cards as they do building larger props.

“This musical has a lot of props compared to past ones. There are so many and a majority of them are little set dressings like pamphlets or fake money which take time to assemble,” senior Abby Wilhelm said.

Props coordinator, sophomore Dixie Kitchens oversees props ready to be used for the cast members. Kitchens keeps all props handy, prepared to pass them out to the actors.

PUBLICITY TEAM

Although the publicity team is not part of the stage production, they still attend every rehearsal. They use this time to ensure that the play doesn’t go unnoticed. Having to gather information, stick to copyright requirements and work with directors, the team creates a variation of designs for promotion posters, production members’ shirts, the play’s tickets as well as the playbill.

During rehearsals, the publicity team also checks in on cast members and their assigned sponsorship places. They then collect sponsorships which are placed in the playbill to gain funds for the Theater Department.

“Our biggest job is definitely keeping track of all the funds we gain from people bringing ads,” junior Catherine Skelly said. “That’s where we get most of our funding, and making a play is expensive, so we encourage everyone to get as many sponsorships as possible.”

Asides from all the designing and managing, the publicity team maintains their main goal is to get the play as much exposure as possible.

“Last year we didn’t get the posters up on time so we didn’t get as much exposure. But, this time we’re working hard to change that,” Skelly said. “The cast and all the crews work so hard and they deserve to been seen.”

Publicity coordinator, junior Catherine Skelly, stays in play's director Jamaal Solomon room working on designs for the production's poster. Skelly created the design with Photoshop.

Credits:

Made by Ahilyn Aguilar Story by Ahilyn Aguilar Photos by Chatham Farrell and Sophie Woodburn

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