Lightning Letter

Stage Door

Kandice Chandra

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One of the trademarks of Autumn for Legacy High School is the annual Fall play. The production is on a smaller scale than the Spring musical, but those involved know that it takes hard work, commitment, and dedication to put on any successful show. In order to get a better idea of the process for putting on a high school production, I interviewed three students who were involved.

 

The Lightning Letter interviewed Jillian McKevitt, who played the role of Judith Canfield, Kelan O’Brian who played the role of Lou Milhauser, and Lucy Neal who was a props assistant. Each student provided behind the scenes insight on what type of person they thought would like the show, the hardest part about the process, amount of commitment, why they do it, and their favorite character. The interviews are at the bottom of the article!

 

I live and breathe theater. That’s what I’m crazy about. I want to play everything I’m suited for. Old hags of eighty, and Topsy, and Lady Macbeth. And what do I get? Ingenues—and very little of that. You don’t know what it is to be an actress. You’re a writer–if you feel something you can write it. But I can’t act unless they let me. I can’t just walk up and down your room, being an actress.”

— Terry Randall

The Fall play this year was titled “Stage Door” by Edna Ferber and George S. Kaufman. “Stage Door” is a throwback play that is set in the Footlights Club during the 1930s, among the Great Depression. The Footlights Club is a group home for theatrical actresses in the heart of New York which is the main setting of the play. Work is hard to come by so the home provides an affordable option for housing and community. The story follows the main star Terry Randall (played by Maya Claridge) who is a witty and headstrong girl from the Midwest and is determined to become a leading actress on the Great White Way. She comes across two men who are completely different. First, she meets an arrogant playwright Keith Burgess (played by Braedon Wilson) who wrote a play and promised Terry that she could be the lead. However, he soon hits it big in Hollywood and ditches Terry. Then, she meets the elegant David Kingsley (played by Brian Dunning) who is a film producer that decides to return to Broadway.

Terry stays committed to the theater trade and ends up turning down a film contract because her love is for theater and performing live on stage. She thinks that the film industry is not authentic and that the stars are “put in a tin can like Campbell soup!”

Keith Burgess and Terry Randall at the Footlights Club. Courtesy of Kandice Chandra.

 

Images above courtesy of Maddy Coen.

 

To see more of the Thespians/Drama Club in action, look out for the Spring musical “Once Upon a Mattress” showing March 13-16, 2019!

 

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If you’re interested in finding out more about the behind the scenes of a play, read below!

 

Jillian McKevitt- “Judith Canfield”

  1. What is your role in the show?

I play the role of Judith Canfield!!

 

  1. What sort of person do you think will like this show?

I think the kind of person that would like it would be someone who enjoys a story where they can laugh, but can also cry with the characters and feel the emotion with the actors.

 

  1. Are there any challenges in bringing this script to life? What are they?

Yes! The hardest part about it is how the lines are said based on your character. You have to read through the script a million times in order to get it right with your character.

 

  1. What part is the most fun for putting a show together?

The best part about the show is always meeting new people, or becoming closer with the people you already know.

 

  1. How does a typical rehearsal go?

A typical rehearsal is pretty chaotic, in trying to get a lot of things done at once. You wouldn’t even be able to believe how hectic dress week is!

 

  1. What are the day to day requirements of being a part of the show?

It is 4 days a week. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Then, one of our dress rehearsals is on a Wednesday and we have a show Saturday night.

 

  1. Who is your favorite character in the production and why?

My favorite character in the production is Terry Randall because Maya Claridge really brings her character to life, in ways I will never understand how. The character feels like it is a real person and I just enjoy seeing her make the audience laugh and cry with her, it is absolutely inspiring.

 

Kelan O’Brian- “Lou Milhauser”

  1. What is your role in the show?

My role in this show is Lou Milhauser, he is a sarcastic business man who later turns out to be a clingy and needy boyfriend.

 

  1. What sort of person do you think will like this show?

I think that a wide variety of people would like this show, it has a lot of sad parts but also a lot of hilarious parts so it is pretty well rounded to fit all audiences.

 

  1. Are there any challenges in bringing this script to life? What are they?

There are a few scenes in this show that are extremely hard to perform and we have to be very careful with how we deliver it. The emotion behind it has to be 100% there and 100% perfect.

 

  1. What part is the most fun for putting a show together?

I really enjoy the people I get to work with, a lot of them are my closest friends and they make the school day worth going through so that I can make it to them at the end.

 

  1. How does a typical rehearsal go?

A typical rehearsal is us getting notes from our director in the beginning and then running the show trying to fix as many mistakes and changes as possible.

 

  1. What are the day to day requirements of being a part of the show?

The day to day requirements mostly just consist of a strong work ethic and attention to detail.

 

  1. Who is your favorite character in the production and why?

My personal favorite character in the show would have to be Mattie the house maid, Judith who is a girl living in the house, or Olga who is a Russian pianist living in the house. I’m pretty indecisive, sorry!

 

Lucy Neal – Props Assistant

  1. What is your role in the show?

I’m a props assistant working under Johanna Mathew – the props master. I also assist in setting the stage each day with the other stage hands.

 

  1. What sort of person do you think will like this show?

Those interested in theater and the life of actresses in the 1930s will most likely enjoy the show. It brings up a couple interesting contrasts to being in movies vs theater – how it was very hard to succeed in theater and how Hollywood was an easier path to fame, but it was a cheat that didn’t require as much effort or passion towards acting.

 

  1. Are there any challenges in bringing this script to life? What are they?

During the early days of the show are where most of the struggles lie with the script, but that’s to be expected. Sometimes a line was hard to understand when simply read from the script, certain words emphasised in a phrase making all the difference. The physical actions during such scenes are just as important as well to turn a moment that is very awkward into something that makes sense and is more realistic than simply reading off lines from a piece of paper, following stage directions lazily and emotionlessly. The actors have to work hard to remember their lines and actions, the details Mrs. Stacks has them revise each rehearsal. Schedule conflicts were hard at the beginning as well, with sports activities an issue for a couple actors and crew. Of course, these problems were all mended, one by one, and the actors worked very hard to put their best foot forward each day.

For the tech crew, most of the struggles were with learning the routine, getting props, makeup, lighting, sound, and costumes all together while also not keeping the actors held up and unable to perform during a scene they’re in. There are details such as letters, books in a bookshelf, purses, etc. for the props; coats, dresses, scarfs, etc. for costumes; makeup for the makeup crew; the timing of lights and the sound effects of a phone, a doorbell, etc. for the booth. We have to be fast in setting up the stage and putting everything away, but this play is tame compared to the music later in the school year. And of course anyone who’s seen a play or musical by Mrs. Stacks knows the rush of curtain call.

 

  1. What part is the most fun for putting a show together?

It’s mostly the banding together of theater-lovers, both actors and tech crew, who enjoy seeing a piece of work come together bit by bit. Each detail in the script, in the setting, in each action of the actors, and the appearance of the characters gets built piece by piece to tell a story to the audience and brings the play to life. There’s nothing better than seeing a rehearsal going smoothly – all actors present and prepared, every prop in place, costumes getting put to use, sound effects and lighting on cue, and the lines flowing without stopping.

 

  1. How does a typical rehearsal go?

The tech crew has to get started on setting the stages as soon as possible while the actors warm up with exercises helping their tone, diction, their ability to interact with each other, put emotion into their acting, etc. Mrs. Stacks goes over notes from previous rehearsals and concerns about certain scenes, props, costumes, etc. are assessed. Then, the actors get going. During the beginning there were many stops for errors in lines or actions such as where someone was standing, where they should move to, but those have gotten less frequent as the issues are resolved. The actors get through as much of the play as possible, moving faster and smoother to the point where they can make it through the entire play in a single rehearsal. Then, as they finish, tech moves everything off the stage to clear it. Props and costumes were improved and integrated each day, the speed of setting up and cleaning up got faster and still is, while the final concerns are being fixed during the final weeks of work.

 

  1. What are the day to day requirements of being a part of the show?

In addition to everything in the previous question, there are some rules that are very important to remember.

Show up to rehearsal. If you can’t, let it be known to the superiors, but if there are constant conflicts, maybe you shouldn’t be in the show at all.

Don’t be loud, talking, slamming doors, etc.

Know your role in the show, be it as an actor or a stagehand or a props person or costumes or booth.

Don’t lag behind and burden your fellow thespians. 

Take advice. If you’re doing something wrong and are told so, don’t get angry. The point is to learn from your mistakes to make the show the best it can be by doing your job. 

Be fast. We need all the time we can get for rehearsals, and any lagging is frowned upon. Do what you do quickly and efficiently. 

A motto among the tech crew is keep the common sense. Common sense should handle every rule you can conceive.

 

  1. Who is your favorite character in the production and why?

All of the characters are great and they are equally amazing and dedicated, but I supposed I’d choose Brian Dunning. He’s extremely enthusiastic about his part – getting the jacket for his character sooner than most, if not all, of the cast got much more than a purse, and being very active in his role. He used time between his scenes during rehearsal to practice parts he didn’t know or certain accentuations in important lines. One of his best traits is being able to recover when there’s a problem with the rehearsal – when a character says a line wrong, when someone is absent and another character takes their place in a certain action. He doesn’t break character, he doesn’t restart a line, he smoothly continues the scene as though it has been planned all along.

About the Writer
Kandice Chandra, Staff Member

Kandice like writing stories about all sorts of things in a wide variety, and she’s excited to be a part of the new newspaper and share her stories with the school! She’s a junior, and spends most of her time in the pool swimming. When she does get some spare time, she love paddle boarding, reading, and just hanging out. Some random facts about Kandice are that she have Harry Potter’s birthday and is currently learning ASL!

Writing Interests: Sports, Entertainment, Opinion

Contact her at [email protected]

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