A tale untold: The hidden crew

Ashley Lee and Arya Bhattacharjee

From the dazzling solos to the grandiose choruses, the musical “Theory of Relativity” highlighted the ordinary interactions of ordinary people and was nothing short of a masterpiece. However, while the on-stage product tends to garner the attention of most of the audience, it is by no means an indication of all the theater tech preparation required for the production of the show.
Immediately after the actors were finalized, the tech team spent three to four weeks building and painting the set. Afterward, they focused on the specifics of backstage by working with the lights and cues.
“The lighting is controlled by the board during the production,” lighting crew member junior Kathryn Sun said. “We write in cues to change colors or dim them and press ‘go’ during the actual production. Gary, our lighting designer, had to configure everything on the board so the lighting would match the music and mood.”
After spending weeks after school, the musical slowly came together during Tech Week, a week before the first production. The tech team ran through the show with the actors for the first time, specifically working on adding microphones on actors and musicians and testing the lighting cues.
“When we had our first proper run-through, I could see everything from the front of the house,” technical director junior Blake Yavuz said. “There were some little things that people may have not noticed like light effects in the song ‘Apples and Oranges.’ There’s a part when the characters introduce each other, and when the sound and lighting cue working together, it looked amazing.”
While the production timeline for the team was similar to past years, there were fewer members and no department heads on the team to lead each crew. Instead, Yavuz, who was part of the crew for “Mamma Mia” and “Romeo and Juliet” in their freshman year, directed and taught the job to beginners on crew.
“During my freshman year, there were only three to four new members, but this year, everyone had to learn,” Yavuz said. “The biggest challenge initially was planning out how to start something when no one knew what they were doing, planning how we can teach the lighting and build the set at the same time.”
Another challenge to the tech team is the limited budget for productions that compete with a need to bring the story to life using a set and props.
“If you lift up the set and turn it upside down, everything that falls out is a prop,” prop designer junior Toby Cole said. “We have to design and figure out how we can reuse what we already have instead of buying stuff, so imagination is key.”
Throughout the entire process, Northwood theatre’s director Danyelle Bossardet supported each crew by giving advice while allowing them to problem solve on their own. Beginning with the next play, “Ash Girl,” set to premiere beginning March 22-25, the team will be led by a student director.
“Tech team is about family even if that sounds cliché,” sound board operator sophomore Zoe Caagly said. “We were so close after working on the musical. It’s so stressful being backstage or at the booth when things go wrong, so it definitely brought us together.”