Behind the Curtains

Saturday, March 10, 2018 - By: Hannah R, Mackenzie ’18, Captain of Musical Theatre; Photo by Ian Mcpherson

Audience members see the fruits of many hours of rehearsal, the emotion of a show’s characters, and the joy upon the faces of performers who give 120% of their energy and passion to collectively create a work of art. But what goes on behind the curtains of a Brentwood musical is so much more.

Six months before opening night, the show is announced and nervous budding triple-threats line the wall outside the directors’ office, waiting for their turn to audition. This is their chance to showcase their unique talents and earn a lead role.

The next week, the cast list is released and, whether the news is individually pleasing or disappointing, students busily begin rehearsing. Large production numbers come first, as they are often the most complicated, and need to be polished to perfection by production week.

Three months before opening night, principal actors begin to rehearse seven days a week. Sunday rehearsals start, as well, so that parts of the show that involve many people can be built, refined, and polished. 

One month before opening night, rehearsals move from the dance studio to the stage. We are extremely fortunate to have our stage on campus, as it gives performers time to adjust to the larger space long before the audience arrives.

Meanwhile, in Theatre Production, technical theatre students work out lighting cues, build sound effects, and practice complicated set changes. Although they don’t appear in the spotlights, these students are crucial to making the show run smoothly.

One week before opening night, the cacophony of instrumentalists warming up fills the theatre, before the first notes of the overture begin. Finally, no more recordings peppered with reminders that they are “rehearsal tracks”!  

Two hours before the show begins, the smell of hairspray is strong in the dressing rooms, as performers prepare themselves to go onstage. The bright lights can make natural skin look pale and sickly, so everyone learns specific makeup techniques and uses special formulas designed for the stage.

Half an hour before the curtains open, the entire cast gathers for notes and things to improve on from the last show, a pep talk from Ms Widenmaier, and a vocal warm up. The cast’s energy is rising fast now, and adrenaline is high.

Then the curtains open; this is why we’ve rehearsed, memorized lines, and listened to songs on repeat. An audience is the final part of a complete show, and their presence motivates every performer to do their very best.  

Two hours pass in a blur, and before we know it, the curtains are closing again. Behind them, hugs and high-fives are exchanged, as members of the largest team on campus congratulate each other on another excellent performance. 

We hope you enjoy the show.

Hannah R, Mackenzie ’18, Captain of Musical Theatre

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