Lights, Camera, Action! – Welcome to the Morton West Theatre Department

Alexandra Chavez, Writer

     Established in the 1900’s, the Morton West Theatre Department has been home to generations of creative and vibrant members, including “Criminal Minds” star, Joe Mantegna. Get your tickets, this department performs popular hits such as “Shrek: The Musical”, “Legally Blonde”, and “In the Heights”. The current production “Stand and Deliver” will open February 23rd. The theatre department is is a place where students are welcomed with open arms to come and show their talents, sing, act, dance, or just have fun. 

Empty Theatre Seats
The auditorium-Photo taken by Alexandra Chavez.

Who is the face of the theatre department? None other than Ms. Janine Delmonico, who  said, “I think that I get to work with the best students in the school, I think they are amazing”. Delmonico says that the students here are incredibly welcoming and help each other out. The theatre department is a place where you can be creative, comfortable, and chill.

Two shows are held every year, the fall musical and the spring play. There’s a lot that goes into the final production, even before rehearsals have started. Upon finding the right play, positions and cast must be filled along with the orchestra. Depending on whether the show is a musical or play, preparation can take anywhere from 8 weeks to 3 months and then some. But how are the shows funded? “Funding comes from the school board and the school district,” said Delmonico. A show’s grand total can cost 5 to 10 thousand dollars. The remainder of the theater funding is brought in by the booster club: Morton Theater Association. The MTA goes out of its way to help the students by taking them on fun field trips and helping out buy equipment and backdrops.

So how can get involved: Aside from adding theatre courses to your schedule, you can join theatre after school! Participate in the showcases and take on roles. Are you too shy? Not a problem, join the crew. Run by Mr. William Delmonico, the crew is all behind the scenes. If you shudder at the thought of being on stage or being in front of a camera, you can stay in the background. Students can help build sets, make costumes, run the lights, and special effects, and the best part: your contribution still gets recognized at curtain call when the crew takes a bow and takes in the round of applause.

Empty Stage
Empty Morton Stage-Photo taken by Alexandra Chavez.

The Theatre Culture,  Delmonico says, “We have a bunch of traditions”. and the traditions have been running through the theatre department for years such as rewards ceremonies, Thespian initiation, and Banquet, a celebration of everything the department has accomplished, and a send-off to the seniors thanking them for their years of work. There are also backstage legends consisting of doors opening and closing, hearing women’s heels walking, and students seeing a woman’s red shoes walk around the theatre but never seeing her face.

Aside from the occasional backstage drama, the Morton Theatre Department is a place where students can come and relax. Junior Ethan Villarreal says, “I find myself enjoying myself just by being here, even if we’re not doing anything super [crazy], hanging out with a bunch of like-minded people or friendly people, that’s what drew me here.” The theatre provides a space just for students to lounge around and make friends.

Junior Chloe Nelson shares, “It’s a super fun way to find something to do after school, it gives you something to do, and you get to meet a whole bunch of new people and they’re genuinely some of the nicest people ever. It’s especially good for incoming freshmen because they get to make so many friends and find a quick easy way to get involved in school.”  In the theatre department, there is a healthy friendly atmosphere that is great for all student to meet new people and have a fun activity.