Preparations for the Spring Musical

"What Goes into Theater's Amazing Productions?"

When we watch the shows that our theater department produces, we always see the very best of what they’ve made. We see the result of countless hours of preparation. But what we don’t get to see are the sets being produced, the actors trying to get their intonation just right, or the techies (people who deal with all technical aspects of the show) working to perfect their quick costume and set changes. What goes on behind the scenes is a lot of hard work and dedication from everybody involved.

 

As the spring musical “Matilda” is coming up, the theater department is working in full swing. With tech week just beginning, everybody is committing to long hours to make sure the production comes out just right.

 

Callie Crandall is a junior here at Ridge who plays the lead character, Matilda. Crandall really wanted the part because she’s loved the production ever since she’s been in theater, which is nearly her whole life. Auditioning to the part just felt right to her, and even though she got the part, she has to put all her effort into the part to do it right. For her, preparing for the role takes up time every day after school, and some Saturdays, too.

 

“You just really have to put in all your effort, and make sure that you don’t just do your work here [at school], but at home too,” Crandall stated.

 

On her own time, she makes sure to read over her lines and listen to the soundtrack so that it all stays in her mind. It’s important for actors to work on their parts at home so that their rehearsals run smoothly, since they can last up to 16 hours on Saturdays alone for many people. Usually this happens on the intimidating tech week, when everybody working on the production rehearses every day to make sure it all goes flawlessly by the first show.

 

Tech week is especially important for not just students with acting parts, but for people who work on the set, costume design, and the technical side of the show. For them especially, Tech Week is the time when they work to smooth the edges of everything they do.

 

Tech week has full technological and dress rehearsals every day after school, so that everybody gets a chance to clean the show together. These rehearsals start at 2:45 and go anywhere between 7:30 and 10. Saturdays are scheduled as an 8 AM to 8 PM rehearsal, but most people stay working at school until midnight. Although the hours are long, it gives them a chance to get the show up to their standards.

 

This time is incredibly important for people who work on designing costumes, since many of them actually take more building than you would think goes into making the typical costume. The show that our theater department is producing is based off of the Broadway version of “Matilda,” so there are complex components that go into making everything work on stage. The costume department has to create tear-away costumes, change a boy into a large woman, and successfully design a skirt that essentially defies gravity.

 

For stage production, this show has been equally challenging to produce. The show wasn’t written with many blackouts to change the set, so they had to find a way to design and maneuver them so that they can be changed without the audience noticing the techies switching them.

 

For the people who have acting roles in the production, they’ve faced equally difficult challenges. “Matilda” takes place in Britain in the 1970’s, so they’ve had to learn British accents and slang from the time. It’s not that learning all these British terms is difficult, but it’s more difficult to find a way to get the same message across to us, an American audience in 2020. So, they’ve worked a lot on how they’re saying things so that we can still understand the emotion and meaning of the play. Plus, in some songs, it’s not always singing. For Crandall, she has many speaking parts that happen in a song, so she has to make sure her timing is just right. There’s choreography and other lines or actions that are relying on her; if she goes too quickly they’ll be left with a pause, and if she goes too slowly, it’ll seem like other people moved too fast.

 

All in all, the work that goes into our school productions is incredible, and it definitely pays off. Matilda is going to be one of their biggest productions yet, so they’re working their hardest to produce an amazing show. Make sure to go see it on opening night, March 7th!