The Making of a Show; Behind the Scenes of Sister Act

By: Sean Donovan ‘19

The ending bows of the final show, the tear filled eyes seen throughout the cast, the crowd of energetic patrons applauding another amazing performance is only a glimpse of what became the most recent production done by the Regis Jesuit Drama Club.

The powerful display, stunned the final sold out show. With only eight weeks to prepare, the journey was well worth it. However there is more than what meets the eye.

Whether it is a broadway performance or a high school drama club, there is one aspect that is needed in every production, and it is often not seen or recognized to the extent that it deserve. This is the backstage crew and design team. Many do not understand what putting together a show takes, and the time and energy that is put into creating it from the ground up. Although many know that there is a crew that helps the show go on, most do not realize the tremendous amount of effort they must put in before, during, and after each production.  Every crew member serves a unique purpose that leads to a successful and profitable production.

Mirkovsch ’20 works along side with professional sound designers to ensure Sister Act will be heard by the audience. (Photo by Sean Donovan ’19)

It all comes to the baseline: what needs to be accomplished and how the goals will be met. Like any team, it is expected that everyone works together. However, often times that doesn’t happen. During the construction of a set, many aspects are in play. Because most of the crews need time on stage toes sometimes get stepped on when many people are trying to accomplish different tasks. Often times, these incidents don’t matter much, but during opening week everyone is on edge.

Laura is a senior who has been a part of the theater crew for three years now and is the current build manager. She recounted, “I think the crews don’t work well together before hell week, but this year we’ve worked really cohesively and collaboratively with each other because it’s been the students leading and not the adults. Less supervision, and we have to roll our sleeves up.”

This is the first year the drama club has had minimal adult supervision. Without a dedicated adult in the scene shop, and no adult crew manager to supervise the tech and design teams. This meant that each crew manager had to take charge of their teams. These crews each had the responsibility to not only stay on task, but ensure the job gets done. This can be a daunting task for teenagers, and it was clear that some things could have been handled better, but each mistake was a learning experience.

All crew members agree that it is frustrating when something goes wrong, especially if it is a situation where nothing can be done. This past show was a clear indication of that.

It was only the second showing of the musical Sister Act on Saturday night. On stage was Deloris Van Cartier, played by Eli Harvey, who was the lead role of the musical. Harvey had a microphone error, and lost connection to the sound booth. This led to the singing of the solo scene with only the bandwidth of her voice, to project to a sold out theatre of nearly 500, without the assistance of her microphone.

This moment sent the sound team into a frenzy as they attempted to asses the problem and fix it. However they soon realized that the cable to her mic pack had snapped in half on stage rendering her mute to the theater speakers. Jumping to their feet, the Sound Team were able to use the tools they had at hand, turning on the theaters “hanging mics” to capture as much of her solo as possible. Though the set of microphones that dangle from the top of the theater could capture her voice, they don’t amplify her to the same extent, but it was enough to help the pit band out.

It was almost immediately apparent to the pit conductor Mr. Aric Serrano SJ that something was up. To compensate for the lack of volume the patrons in the theater had, he adjusted his commands, resulting in the band to be turned down so not to overpower Eli’s voice. For the next several minutes the powerful voice of Eli combined with a lightened band resulted in a tremendous amount of applause from an astonished crowd.

After the performance the Sound Team came together to ensure the same issue would not occur again. By working with the costumes crew they made the necessary modifications to support Eli’s microphone. The sound team also put together an “emergency kit” that had back up cables in the scenario that something similar would happen again, they could jump on deck.

Though this is not the only bump in the road, it was certainly one that resonated with the sound technicians.

Overall it was well worth in the end. Combined with a brilliant onsomble, Regis Jesuit was nominated for Main Stage at Thescon, the equivalent of a state championship. The entire cast, crew and pit are energized and with their collaboration and hard work, this phenomenal show will now be seen by thousands of students from around the state at the Bellco Theater in the Denver Convention Center. With one final show to come everyone will be preparing to make it the best one yet.

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