Communications junior Adam Goldstick is a second-year member of The Muse. For as long as he can remember, Adam has enjoyed telling stories, originally...
GOING “CRAZY FOR YOU”
Moving the streets of New York City and the arches of Deadrock, Nevada into Meyer Hall was done through interdepartmental collaboration, attention to detail, and teamwork. The result: Dreyfoos’ take on the 1992 musical comedy, “Crazy for You.”
The fall musical opened on Friday and tells the story of the young banker Bobby Child, and his trip to Nevada to foreclose a rundown theatre. In the midst of it all, Bobby falls for high-spirited Polly Baker, the theater owner’s daughter. Telling this story called for the collaboration between the student-led build, performance, orchestra, light, and sound teams.
acting as a team
“The thing that excites me the most about performing is probably the rush every time,” theatre senior Jakob Littell said. “There is always a level of improv and adaptation you have to do. Every choice you make and every movement that is on stage should be new to some degree.”
Littell and theatre senior Dylan Lugosi play the lead characters, Bobby Child and Polly Baker, alongside 35 other onstage cast members. Lugosi worked to identify with her character, the only girl from Deadrock. The story itself tells of Bobby’s relationship with Polly, whom Lugosi identifies as “a very confident woman.”
“She knows what she wants, and I really resonate with that,” Lugosi said.
For a show set in the 1930s, written in the 1990s, and including music from the 1940s, inconsistency challenged both cast and crew members. Another challenge was the time commitment. The crew alone recorded 4,550 collective after-school hours of work toward the show.
“This is my first time playing such a large role in a show so it definitely was a challenge at first, balancing the singing, dancing, and acting,” Lugosi said. “We really took on the show. We had our challenges along the way, but I definitely feel we tackled them … The show is going to be very great because we are all so close, supportive, and loving to one another.”
While the cast worked together to present the intricate story, what audiences don’t see is the rush behind the scenes during a show. Pre-show preparations have cast members hard at work on weekends and staying late hours on weekdays. Technical director and theatre junior Lauren Perez oversaw the set-building process. In terms of her responsibilities, she identified managing people as her greatest obstacle.
“A lot of people skills come out of this job,” Perez said. “It’s something that you don’t think about when you think of technical theatre. Our number one priority is safety. We need to make sure that the actors and the crew members are safe at the same time. There’s something about creating something completely on your own, and seeing the final piece on stage working perfectly and transforming the entire show, that is just beautiful.”
creating the set
Nineteen students worked on build crew, tasked with turning a blueprint into multifunctional, complex set piece.
“Every single piece of wood on that set is an individual piece that’s been cut mitered, ripped, and treated like its own piece of scenery, and then applied to the wall,” set designer and theater alumnus Michael McClain (‘01) said. “It is an extraordinary amount of extra work, but it creates the texture and the shadow for dimension that makes the set pop.”
The set consists of 200 sheets of Plywood, 10,000 staples, and 45 pounds of screws, all installed with hours of manual labor and technical experience by technical director and theatre teacher Edward Blanchette and the crew. Around 30 gallons of paint were used to color the set, all detailed by hand. From working with students after school, Mr. Blanchette logged 572 uncompensated work hours.
“Anything worth doing is worth putting in the time,” Mr. Blanchette said, pausing to the sound of a sliding compound miter saw cutting luber. “Much of this show was built by kids who never touched a tool three months ago.”
Prop manager and theatre sophomore Sabrina Sillence oversaw the smaller details of the show: eight pick axes, 14 candlestick telephones, three bottles of Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey, and an exploding cuckoo clock.
“It’s just those little details such as the explosion from the clock or the decorations on the walls that make this amazing show come together,” Sillence said.
putting it all together
Through a bigger window, deck chief and theatre junior Juliette Maners directs students in the moving of the set pieces on and off the stage. In a late rehearsal, Maners stepped through the moving sets, designers, and the last minute rush of the performance to stop and reflect on the production.
“The biggest challenge is probably making sure both sides of the stage are on the same page. There are some entrances where [multiple] units have to come in at the same time and land in the correct spots. It’s about making sure that everything is punctual.”
This punctuality was a problem that Maners ran into in the early stages of the production. To manage, transition sheets were placed around the three main set pieces, allowing crew members to know when their cues were and where to go.
For example, the saloon unit, a set piece that functions as both an exterior and an interior location, is rigged with a pneumatic brake system powered with air pressure tubing. This allows the unit to remain in place as actors are dancing, moving, and running on top of it. To ensure their place and timing, the crew communicates during the live shows via headsets, connecting those like production stage manager and theatre junior Isabella Betz with other stage managers that work directly with the actors behind the curtain. Isolated, Betz sits atop the second story of the theater, overseeing the show below and communicating directly with the crew backstage.
“It’s always nice to be able to see a show come together,” Betz said. “I would rather be in the booth looking at the show from this distance, seeing it all falling together like puzzle pieces, than be on the stage.”
reflecting on it all
Creating a show is about teamwork and problem solving. Reflecting back on progress and stepping away to look at the bigger picture is a necessity for cast and crew members. They do this to appreciate the art of their classmates and themselves.
“This is where I started. This is where I learned about theatre. This is where I learned about design,” Mr. McClain said. “I wasn’t really exposed to theatre before I came here so this is sort of the birthplace for me. I have a lot of fond memories in my time here and great friendships. It’s always special coming back and seeing the space sort of just evolve, remembering the way it was when I was here, and what it is now.”
Even with help from those like McClain, frequent master classes from industry professionals, and the hundreds of hours contributed by teachers, director and theatre dean Michelle Petrucci wished to have more adult hands on board.
“It’s not easy. It wouldn’t be easy for a professional,” Ms. Petrucci said. “It’s magical when it does come together. You watch and you see a moment where the kids are singing or dancing, the orchestra is playing, the set pieces move, and the light cue goes. All of a sudden you’re telling a story. That’s magic. That’s theatre magic.”
“Crazy for You” runs on select dates through Nov. 3. You can purchase tickets at the door or by calling (561)-802-6052. Follow @dsoatheatre on Instagram for more production updates.
Read More in Issue 1 of The Muse.