The Hidden Side of Theatre: Tools, Costumes, Sound, and Light

Maya Miller, Staff Writer

Think of bright stage lights, singing, dancing, and energetic, outgoing people standing in front of a live audience. This is what many people imagine when they think of theatre. So, many students on the quieter or more reserved side give theatre an automatic “no”. But, many forget about the quieter, backstage part of theatre, that doesn’t require acting at all. Read on to find out about crew, a part of theatre just as integral as the actors and actresses are in a production.

Crew meets in the auditorium until they can sign in and get up to the stage to help with whatever needs to be done that day. Crew members run to the different parts of backstage theatre at Morton West to get the materials they need.

  • A common place to go is The Cage. This is the caged in room that holds the tools, paint, and sink in organized sections, to get what they need to build sets.
  •  To find props they may also go up to the steps to one side of the stage to The Prop Deck. The Prop Deck is filled with props from previous years, waiting for their time to shine once again.
  • Next to these stairs is a door breaking off to a small room where the costumes for the year’s musical are made and kept. Even farther back, connected to that room, is a large room where costumes from many years past are kept.
  • To the other side of the stage there are steps that lead to Pin Rail. This is where students control the curtains like the Oleo and Grand. There can never be only one student up there, so crew members must remember to bring someone just in case something were to go wrong. The “All clear!” must be given before any curtains can go up or down!
  • The Stage is, of course, the most known part where the audience and other can see immediately when they enter the theatre. Before the performance, the stage is used for laying out sets to build and paint.

Crew consists of many different departments including sound, light, spotlight, running crew, costumes, and Pin Rail. At some point in crew, students choose which department they wish to be part of. Until the actual performance, most students in all departments help with the same thing: building and painting sets. Mr. Delmonico comes up with the set that needs to be made for the particular play or musical of the year.

  • Sound members mostly wait up in the rooms at the far back of the theatre for their time to shine. During the performances they control the “body mics, wireless mics, stage wired, headsets, and OX for when we do presentations”, according Irina Vazquez, one of the head members of Sound. “There should really only be 3 to 5 people at the sound board and everyone else should be backstage fixing people’s mics and making sure everything is working right.”
  • A few Light members are at the lightboard in the back of the auditorium controlling the light panel during the performance. They also will be helping from above the theatre, where they know exactly when and where lights should be seen. Two people work spotlights during the show and spend their time adjusting the size, brightness, color, and location of the spotlights located at the back corners of the theatre.
  • Just like lights and sound, Costumes and props are usually used more and more as the date for the opening night of the show grows nearer. Students who want to help with costumes, lead by Mrs. McWinnie, cut, sew, and find the costumes necessary for a great performance. Crew also goes up to the Prop Deck to find the props needed for the show, requested by Mrs. Delmonico, director of cast. Costumes and props members keep their objects and outfits organized and ready to help cast get them on during the show! On show night, dressed all in black, a crew member will quietly scurry to the stage, with the prop in hand to help the cast with the show.
  • Running crew helps with ushering the crowds during a performance, making sure all the general props, costumes, sets, are in place, and, of course, running materials to cast and crew member who need them.

In short, if there is anyone out there who has been on the fence about theatre, would enjoy using some tools or paint, is interested in lights, sound, costumes, or props, or just wants to see what interests them, feel free to join crew’s remind @crewbeau and stop by to check crew out. If not, Morton West theatre hopes to see you at the 2021 musical, Beauty and the Beast! Welcome to the Morton West theatre family!