Lights, camera, rehearse


Photo by Kristi Sengpraseuth

For Thespian Troupe #888, recent school days have been at least 10 hours long, for some over 13 hours. Senior Elise Dorsey is one of the cast and crew members who comes to rehearsals every day to prepare for the November musical, “Into the Woods.” Dorsey plays the lead part of The Witch.

“The story follows storyline,” Dorsey said. “I don’t think I’m the most important, but I think that the story is happening because of me. It’s my fault.”

During auditions, everyone prepares a song and cold reads a given scene. Dorsey was hoping for the part of either the Baker’s Wife or The Witch, and for her audition she sang Wherever He Ain’t from the musical “Mack and Mabel.”

“I wanted to make sure that I picked an audition song that showed off the anger and intensity that I could bring to the role,” Dorsey said. “The song that I sang is by the original witch, Bernadette Peters.”

After rehearsal, Dorsey and other members of the cast volunteer to join the tech crew from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. These three hours are dedicated to constructing the set, which is particularly elaborate for “Into the Woods.”

“We have different platforms all over the set,” stage manager Josh Harris said. “Coming off the platforms, we have chicken wire. We’re going to put fabric and paper mache all over the chicken wire, and it’s going to look like landscaping all over the set.”

As stage manager, Harris oversees all tech: set construction and the working of props, costumes, lights and sound.

“I make sure it all comes together,” Harris said. “When the show happens, the director’s done and I’m there. I say, ‘Alright, cue two,’ and the lights go up and people go on stage and microphones are on.”

Helping the crew as a set designer this year is Harris’ father, Jason Harris, a technical director and set designer at Avila University. Jason was a set designer for “Into the Woods” at SM North 20 years ago, so he contributed an updated version of that set design.

“When I was a kid, I would visit him while he was working,” Harris said. “He made theater look so fun and fulfilling, so when I started theater I tried my best to be like him.”

Embracing the tech life like his father, Harris is convinced that backstage is the better place to be.

“When you go to see a , there are two shows happening,” Harris said. “There’s the show on stage and there’s the show backstage. The show backstage is 100 percent more fun.”