Cast, crew contribute numerous hours to prepare for opening night of musical, Crazy for You

Maddie Jewett, Meghan Kennedy, Staff Writer, Staff Writer

Editor’s Note: This is the extended version of the story that appeared in the January 2012 edition of the Tiger Print.

The Lead: Alex Petersen
Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast.
Marius in Les Misérables.
Jimmy in Thoroughly Modern Millie.
Charlie in The Foreigner.
The life of the lead.
Senior Alex Petersen said the hardest part of having a lead role is learning all of the material.
“There’s a lot of dances I have to learn, a lot of lines and songs I have to memorize,” he said. “There’s a big workload. And then, after you memorize that, you have to make sure the character shows. You basically have to layer all of those things in.”
Rehearsing for the musical takes three to four hours after school every day.
“Usually, we meet in the PAC, and roll is taken,” he said. “Then we run some of the dances. After that, we go into blocking rehearsal. We work on things in depth, and we clean the blocking, and by that time rehearsal is about over.”
He said he sacrifices sleep due to his participation in the musicals.
“We get home around 6:30 or 7:00,” he said. “Then, a lot of us have voice lessons or dance classes that we have to go to. Once you get done with those, you have homework you have to do. You just have to learn to deal with the lack of sleep.”
Petersen said the lead role complements the rest of the cast.
“The lead role keeps the story going and helps showcase all of the other people onstage — all of the supporting, funny characters,” he said.
Petersen said the members of the musical cast bond during the hours of rehearsal.
“We’re all really close,” he said. “We’re really good friends, and we know if we’re ever having a rough day, we can talk to each other. It’s just such a family atmosphere.”
Though some roles in the play have more lines than others, Petersen said one cast member does not work harder than another.
“The past three years I’ve had supporting roles, and there really isn’t much difference between the two,” he said. “A lot of the same amount of work is put in, and everyone works hard.”
The cast works together, and Petersen said everyone is more than willing to lend a hand.
“We help each other out a lot,” he said. “If I need someone to help me run through lines to make sure I have them memorized, I can ask anyone. We help each other learn the dances. If someone missed a day and they need help, then we can help them with that, also.”
Petersen said being on stage is a surreal experience.
“You know that you have worked hard –– everyone has worked hard –– and you put together this final product,” he said. “It feels good to be out there on the stage.”

The Producer: Marsha Moeller
Twenty-six musicals.
Fifteen hours of rehearsal per week.
Teaching four music classes.
The life of the producer.
Choir teacher and musical producer Marsha Moeller takes on a multitude of responsibilities.
“A lot of prep goes into [the musical] –– ordering the scripts, ordering the scores, ordering the lumber, ordering the paint, ordering tickets, ordering costumes,” Moeller said. “I oversee the whole production. I don’t direct it, but I’m the producer. There’s a lot of hours in preparation before we start the rehearsals.”
As the producer, Moeller faces financial pressures.
“Money is the biggest challenge,” she said. “The backdrops are four times as much as they were when I started using them. Our budget is not what it needs to be. We ask for donations from companies for different products.”
Moeller chooses and produces the musical every year.
“I try to look at the kids and say, ‘What are our strengths and talents?’” she said. “‘What kind of characters would be available?’”
She said the director’s role is more theatrical, whereas the producer’s role is more musical.
“[The producer] is more of a music person, and the director needs to be more of a drama person,” she said. “I pick the director, and the one we have has tons of experience in musical theatre. This is his 11th show here.”
Moeller said she hopes students gain confidence while performing in the musical.
“I want to have them reach for higher things and make use of their full potential,” she said. “It’s nice to see the cast work together on something creative. It’s fun watching the friendships that are made.”
Moeller said without a producer, the show would be unorganized.
“You need one person to hold it together,” Moeller said. “Then everybody does their job, but having one person oversee all of it, it helps a lot. The producer makes sure the quality of the production is a high quality. Whether it being acting, dancing, or singing because I oversee all of it.”
Moeller said helping with the musical has made a positive impact in her life.
“It makes my life very rich,” she said. “It has blessed and enriched my life. We interact a lot, everyday, several hours a day. I get to work with kids four years in a row, and I get to know them very well. Any time my kids leave, I feel like they’re my adopted children.”

The Ensemble: Rachel Phillips
Six hours of dance lessons.
Half an hour of voice lessons.
Three hours of musical rehearsal.
The life of the ensemble.
Sophomore Rachel Phillips said the ensemble is a key component in the final show.
“The importance of the ensemble is to create the life,” Phillips said. “We add the background to make it seem more realistic because there wouldn’t just be a few characters in a real place. We also get to add power to the big production numbers.”
The members of the ensemble take a number of steps to prepare for opening night.
“Lately, we’ve been doing a lot of singing,” she said. “We just started blocking, so the director has been coming in, and we start at the top of the show. We take it scene by scene and then after we block a little bit, we’ll go back and run it all to make sure we’ve got it. Rehearsals can be pretty long, but they’re pretty productive most of the time. It’s worth it in the end.”
The ensemble contributes to the musical by filling a variety of roles.
“Sometimes we are the people walking down the street while a scene is taking place,” Phillips said. “Other times, we are miscellaneous people who need to do stuff in a scene. Outside of the production numbers, we contribute by filling any parts of jobs that need to be done.”
She said perfection onstage isn’t just expected of the lead roles.
“The pressure that we feel is just to be on top of our game and learn all of our vocal parts, lyrics, dancing and blocking,” she said. “Even if the leads know what they are doing, if the ensemble doesn’t, the quality of the show goes down.”
While onstage, the ensemble has minimal interaction with the major characters. However, offstage, Phillips said, all cast members are close.
She said the ensemble members collaborate to raise the standard of the show.
“An ensemble is great when they are able to work together,” Phillips said. “It’s a group effort and you need to leave all your other drama behind and just focus on the show.”
Her favorite part is meeting new people who share her same interests.
“I’ve made new friends that are freshmen, but I’ve also made new friends that are seniors,” she said. “It’s just a really good connection and a good way to get connected with the school.”
Phillips said being on stage has given her a self-confidence that she couldn’t find elsewhere.
“Just being up on stage and putting yourself out there is a really big boost,” she said. “When you hear the applause from the audience at the end, it’s just a really great feeling.”

The Stage Manager: Julia Chestnut
Writing out blocking.
Taking roll.
Helping design costumes.
The life of the stage manager.
From onstage to offstage, junior Julia Chestnut has seen it all.
“Today, I was giving notes about little things during a scene that needed to be tweaked or fixed,” she said. “And it’s weird, because just a few months ago, I was the one being given notes. It’s a very different experience being on the other side of the glass. You are giving directions instead of taking directions.”
Chestnut said the stage manager makes sure everything runs smoothly in all aspects of the show from tech to backstage activity.
“You go over the blocking, where the actors move, when they move,” she said. “All the sounds and light effects, what goes on backstage that the audience doesn’t see. The stage manager makes sure everything gets done, when it needs to be done, and that it is done the right way. We are there to help out actors with any questions they might have. We are also the head of the tech crew so we make sure everything fits together and oversee everything.”
Chestnut said the stage manger is in charge of holding the show together.
“It’s just so hard to think of not having [a stage manager],” she said. “The tech crew is like the glue that holds the show together. The actors can go out on stage and sing and dance and shine, but without us, they don’t have the music or lights. It would be very rigid and rough around the edges. Without a stage manager it would be tough to make sure everything runs smoothly. It would be hard for everyone to focus on two jobs when they already do so much. If the actors tried to do their job and the tech job, a lot of it might fall apart.”
Interacting with the cast, she said, is the best part about being stage manager. She said she loves contributing to the final product.
“Nothing feels better than helping them do what they do best,” she said. “I’ve had my time to shine, and now it is my turn to help them do what they love. It’s so much fun to watch them get up on stage and know that you had a helping hand in making it look the best that it could be.”
Though her job may be tough, Chestnut said the hard work is worth it in the end.
“It’s something I love doing,” she said. “Not only have I been a stage manager, but I have also been in shows. I have a greater appreciation for what goes into shows. When I was onstage, you don’t really see what goes on offstage. When you work backstage, you get to see everything that happens. You make bonds with the people you’re working with, and even though we have such different personalities, in the end, we are all just a huge family.”

The Pit: Carlos Cheung
The first thing heard when the show begins.
The last thing heard before the final curtain.
The hours of practice leading up to opening night.
The life of the pit orchestra musician.
Senior Carlos Cheung said the atmosphere of the musical contributes to his enjoyment of playing in pit orchestra.
“I get to work with people who are motivated and who actually want to be there,” he said. “I get to play show music, and this year, it’s a jazz musical, which I really like.”
Cheung, who played in pit orchestra last year, said being under the stage is a unique experience.
“There’s a weird covering on the stage, and we are actually under that weird covering,” he said. “We sit there, and they actually sing and dance on top of us. It was definitely really warm, and whenever someone stepped on top of us, it was terrifying because you thought the stage might collapse on you.The pit is really small, and not a lot of people can fit in it. It’s not as high as you would think. I can stand up in it, but I can’t exactly move around without bumping my head.”
The pit orchestra practices at least six hours a week.
“Right now, we’re just going through the music and making sure that we are playing it correctly,” he said. “Once it gets closer to the show, we’ll start playing with the cast.”
He said playing in pit orchestra is a lot of pressure.
“Beside the fact that we may not be exactly the most important piece, if we mess up it’s still going to be heard,” he said. “It’s going to sound off, and that might throw off the cast on top of us.”
Cheung said the interaction between pit and the other components of the musical is minimal.
“We kind of just do our own thing and try to help out occasionally,” he said. “Generally, the orchestra doesn’t really interact with the cast a lot. We know them because we go to the same school, but, basically, we don’t interact with them until the show is about to open. That’s when we start practicing together.”
Cheung said the pit’s role goes hand in hand with that of the cast.
“We follow directly with the musical,” he said. “We follow the lead of the cast, the people that are singing, and not the other way around. We are sort of in the background, and we support them.”