The creation of Spectacle Theatre’s A Little Night Music

Membersof Spectacle Theatre work on the set for the show.  photo: Aaron Olkin

Members of Spectacle Theatre work on the set for the show.
photo: Aaron Olkin

PHS’s annual spring musical will be hitting the stage starting April 10, and this year, Spectacle Theatre will be presenting Stephen Sondheim’s award-winning Broadway love story A Little Night Music. The story that will unravel onstage marks the culmination of months of hard work from the cast and stage crew. Responsible for the entire production process, Spectacle Theatre organizes and collaborates for many months before the lights finally shine on the stage.

Spectacle Theatre, a student-run club, manages costumes and makeup, as well as publicity and lighting.  They work offstage at each of the three showings of the musical, and direct several other creative plays throughout the year. The club busies itself in the months leading up to the performances with the numerous jobs that accompany creating a musical adaptation. These include but are not limited to: building and painting sets, ordering and creating props, and preparing the technological aspects on stage. “There are lots of volunteers and students from drama class who want a theater experience,” said Michelle Goldman ’14, the stage manager and president of Spectacle Theatre.

A variety of props and sets are prepared each year in order to ensure that the musical is as realistic as possible. Julian Eubank, a faculty member who works as Spectacle Theatre’s technical director said, “We’re having stage wagons, which are large platforms that come on and off stage. There will be a chained loop, [and] people will turn the wheel and drive the wagon off.”

Another backstage job in the musicals belongs to the fly crew. Flying scenes are used for drops and scene changes, both of which often can occur within a small window of less than ten seconds. Daniel Galastro ’16, a member of the fly crew, said, “There’s [a hanging] window frame that will come down in different scenes. There [are] going to be drops which have enormous paintings on them.”

Along with many jobs onstage, Spectacle Theatre also covers costumes and makeup. For Elle Klein ’16, a member of the costume committee, the most difficult task is the quick changes in costumes between scenes. “During scene changes, we have to act quickly in order for actors to get ready in time for their next scene,” said Klein. “It can be really difficult, especially [because] we only have a little bit of time to act before they have to go on again.” In addition to their work behind the scenes, the costume staff is also responsible for organizing costumes and sending the rentals back to their respective companies.

In order for the show to be a success, many technical points must be achieved. “We have [a hired] choreographer [to] come … [as we get] closer to the show, [and we] run through with tech for lights and sound,” said Goldman. Setting up cues for the lightboard and soundboard involves accuracy and precise timing, and the light and sound crews have to be keen on ensuring proper set-up of microphones and special effects.

“In rehearsals, I take a lot of notes in my script, writing down what I need to do [as] Michelle calls the cues over the headset,” said head of sound crew Simon Bilsky-Rollins ’14. To achieve the best results, Bilsky-Rollins constantly communicates with his fellow sound crew members during rehearsals, and during performances, they communicate through headsets.

Although building a world onto a high school stage is task that takes hours of setup and preparation, it pays off as the curtains finally open and the audience comes to a hush. And after the final bows on April 12, 2014, the cast and crew can finally relax—at least until everything has to be cleaned up.