Behind the Scenes: Stage Crew Vital to Mamma Mia’s Success

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Behind the Scenes: Stage Crew Vital to Mamma Mia’s Success

The stage crew of a production receives little recognition, but they are essential to helping productions run smoothly from beginning to end.

The stage crew of a production receives little recognition, but they are essential to helping productions run smoothly from beginning to end.

Submitted by Julie Marshall

The stage crew of a production receives little recognition, but they are essential to helping productions run smoothly from beginning to end.

Submitted by Julie Marshall

Submitted by Julie Marshall

The stage crew of a production receives little recognition, but they are essential to helping productions run smoothly from beginning to end.

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An easily overlooked, however, crucial asset to every production, is the stage crew. The teachers and students, who are not always visible on the stage for all they contribute to make the production a success, play arguably one of the biggest roles. This was certainly true for the  production of SCHS’s spring musical Mamma Mia.

There are a number of reasons students might choose to participate in stage crew. Some students might love theater, but not the attention that comes along with being on the stage. Others enjoy the ability to express their creative ideas on props and set pieces. Freshman Katelin McKay said, “I joined because I love plays and musicals, but I didn’t want to actually have to be on stage in front of everyone. I started stage crew in the fall, and I fell in love with it and everyone on the drama team. Looking back, I made the right decision and wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Sophomore Gracie Ferguson was influenced by her sister’s involvement in theater. “I joined because my sister does plays and I thought it would be really cool to be apart of something like this without actually having to act,” she said. 

Stage crew is the backbone of the show. They take their job very seriously, and I appreciate their professionalism and dedication. We would not run as smoothly as we do without them. ”

— Julie Marshall, director of Mamma Mia

Responsibilities differ for each member of the crew, and could include the transportation of props, providing aid and assistance to the actors, as well as cleaning and organizing throughout the show.  These tasks keep the show on track from beginning to end, and students that work behind the curtain must be prepare for the responsibilities they are given. Evan Spencer, sophomore, worked stage left for Mamma Mia. He acknowledged that being behind the curtain isn’t always easy. “You have to be focused and on time with cues, but you can have a lot of fun with it.”

Stage managers and specialized crew members often take on other significant assignments, like managing the lights and opening/closing the curtains. Juliana Johnson, senior, worked stage right manager for Mamma Mia and explained more about what she did throughout the production.  “Typically we find all of the props from the prop closet, and we bring out the costumes. On a typical show day, we are in charge of making sure the props get to the right actor, and we help with the costume changes. Sometimes during big shows, we help move big stuff on stage.”

Stage crew can be a learning experience

There are a lot of responsibilities and skills that it takes to get a show up and running. Therefore, students have the opportunity to develop and learn new abilities. Johnson explained the skills she gained as apart of the stage crew. “I learned a lot of organizational skills, because I had to be very organized in knowing where everything is, when it goes off, when it comes back. I also learned leadership skills. As the stage manager, I’m supposed to keep everyone quiet backstage, make sure they know when they’re going off, and keep a hold of and manage the stage crew.

Meeting new people

Learning skills is not the only benefit.  Working stage crew is an opportunity to meet new people, make friends and overall get more involved within the school. Madison Werner, freshman, worked stage left described and acknowledged that through this she “met a whole group of people that I didn’t know before. I had no idea I’d meet such amazing people and make such great memories. ” 

There’s a lot of good people who work on the stage crew… They’re involved and sophisticated, I joined because I wanted to be a part of the musical but not really on stage.”

— Evan Spencer, sophomore

Spencer agreed that stage crew was a great social experience. “There’s a lot of good people who work on the stage crew… They’re involved and sophisticated, I joined because I wanted to be a part of the musical but not really on stage. I showed up one day and stuck around, which was a good idea because there are so many awesome people involved with the crew.” he said.  

Easily overlooked

 Spencer explained that there can be some misconceptions about why students chose to become involved with the stage crew and how not always being visible on the stage can lead to a division between the actors and the crew. “A lot of the time actors will keep to themselves and, of course we, as stage crew, have to interact with them. And there will be some people who think, ‘oh, they’re the stage crew, they’re on there because they couldn’t get on the show. The closest the crew gets to the audience is when we come out at the end and it’s like ‘hey, we exist…’ We don’t usually get a lot of credit for putting in the more managerial aspects of the show.”

It can be easy for the audience to overlook the stage crew, however support from teachers and fellow members is appreciated. Johnson continued, “We are in the shadows but Mrs. Marshall [director] does a really good job of telling us that the show wouldn’t run without us.”  

As the director of Mamma Mia, Mrs. Marshall acknowledged the importance of the students who participated in stage crew. “Stage crew is the backbone of the show. They take their job very seriously, and I appreciate their professionalism and dedication. We would not run as smoothly as we do without them,” Marshall stated.