Spotlight on Backstage; Mamma Mia!

Hannah Butts, J1 Reporter

Lights up. Sound and lights prep for their first cue. The set and props intricately designed and placed. Each cast member wears their designated costume along with specific stage makeup. This is the finished product of what the crew of “Mamma Mia” will be looking forward to for show night on Nov. 7, 8, 9 and 10.

In any theatre production, cast and crew have to work together in order to make the show come alive. Although the cast and the crew have two completely different jobs, both share the same pressure to complete their tasks with the best of their abilities.

“Their performance (cast) is making the characters come to life, crew has to make the world come to life,” director Matthew Ashpaugh said. “So, the actors can be the characters living in that world. So, all of the technical elements really bring that together. Not to mention without house and publicity crew, we wouldn’t have an audience.”

However, even though both sides of a production work equally as hard, the spotlight is sets on the cast, both on and off stage. Most of the praise falls upon the actors, rather than the backstage theatre members.

“We are always just in the background and like no one really talks about us, like when you’re talking about a show, you’re like, oh, the leads did so good but you’re not really talking about how well like the lighting design or like how smoothly things ran,” stage manager Elaina Shalabi said.

Having recognition may bring more attention to the hard work and dedication put in, especially now since there are more and more positions where students have complete control and responsibility over the success of portions of the show. For example, a dance captain, who has to choreograph numbers in the show and then teach them to their peers in the cast.

“It’s been a little bit stressful gaining the responsibility of a dance captain because I’m not a senior yet. I am still a junior, and it’s a new position for the musical and just the department as a whole, so it’s taken a little bit for everybody to get used to that,” dance captain Reese Hill said. “Oh, you’re not just here to teach us dances, but you’re also here to make sure that everybody is getting things the way they should be.”

Furthermore, crew gives students the responsibility they want, without it having to be upon the stage. People who would rather stay out of the limelight can, while still very much being an important part of the show’s success.

“I don’t want to be the person that’s always face-plastered on everything. I like to be behind the scenes and help the show run smoothly,” student technical director Levi McKinney said.

Regardless of what part of the show each person has a hand in, they each put in hard work because the finished result is worth each day of sweat and stress, they had to endure to get it there.

“I wanted to be a part of the musical because it all started from last years’ show ‘In The Heights,’ I, personally, thought it was almost close to a masterpiece. It was amazing and I was like, I would love to be part of that, whether it be cast, crew, I didn’t care,” lights crew member Fabian Lopez said.

The hard work put in to see the show come together is only half the reason why students love of being a part of the musical, for the real enjoyment is just getting to do what they love – whether that be performing, or working behind the scenes – with the people they love.

“My favorite part about being involved in the musical is definitely the relationships I’ve developed with everybody and other people, and just the sense of family happening around in the atmosphere we do our work in.” Hill said.