The Making Of a Musical
The Addams Family take the stage in Maine West’s latest musical on February 22-24 of 2019. The cast and crew begin their three month preparation to put on the production for the community.
Behind the scenes, excitement runs high as students are casted in the production. “It begins with auditions and for the musical specifically there is a dancing portion and an acting portion. So, they go through the dancing and then they sing a portion of the song and while singing, they have to act, so it’s like a two-in-one. Then they get called back for lead roles and all those called back go back and they have a few reading excerpts that they have to do with other students. Then the cast list is posted with all student leaders with the student producer and student director and then after that rehearsals pick up. They include dancing rehearsals, singing rehearsals, and blocking rehearsals,” senior and student director Jackie Sepulveda said.
Once the actors and actresses receive their scripts, they begin to get to work. “I read through the script when I initially get my part, highlight my lines, and then I go to rehearsal knowing the background of the scene. Then when we block it, my goal is the next time we run that scene to be completely memorized,” senior and actress who plays Alice Beneicke, Claire Faust said. Faust is staring in her eleventh production at Maine West and has been staring in plays and musicals since sixth grade, her first being “The Wizard of Oz.”
Faust has a tradition of running through her lines with her mom that started her freshman year. “It started off me asking her, but then every once in a while I’m just sitting in my room doing it by myself and she’s like, ‘Do you need help?’ and I’m like, ‘I guess,’” Faust said.
As an artist, Faust prepares for her role by creating her character in her own creative way with the support of her director, Mr. Harmon. During blocking rehearsals, Faust must take on the role of bringing her character, Alice Beneicke, from her script to to the stage.
Keeping in mind what her director told her, Faust must plan out every movement of her character, even the most natural that the audience would never have guessed is planned.
“Sometimes, with certain directors when they just tell you to move somewhere, but the way Mr. Harmon does it, he asks you if you feel motivated to move and if you don’t he won’t make you. He doesn’t shape the character, he lets you. He acknowledges your thoughts as an artist and he lets you make your own character and he doesn’t make the choices for you,” Faust said.
Unbeknown to the audience, a lot of the magic takes place behind the stage as well. For this production, costume crew has taken on the challenge to create a lot of black outfits and modify them to be more interesting for the cast. “I’m really excited just because we’re doing a show where it’s just like black costumes basically. I got really excited because I was like, ‘Wow, we actually need to make this look good and not just really really cringey,’” Junior and member of the costume crew Samantha Bahena said.
Bahena is participating in her second production at Maine West as a member of costume crew this year. As a freshman, she took fashion classes at school and learned how to machine sew. From there, she got involved her sophomore year in costume crew and learned how to modify clothing to adjust the size.
“So, most of the time, Ms. Murphy already has a specific look in mind or we draw inspiration off other people who have already made our production. We look through what we already have because we have a room full of costumes and then if there is something in there that works, we see how we can modify it to fit whatever we want it to look like,” Bahena said.
During the weeks leading up to the show, the cast, crew, and pitt go through tech week. “Tech week is a time when the whole cast, crew, and pitt get together and run the show multiple times with music and all of the lights and sound effects,” Faust said.
This week can be a very stressful time for the cast and crew. When being involved in a production like this, one learns valuable lessons that helps them on and off the stage.
“Communication. 100%. There are so many people you have to be talking to to make sure that everything is running smoothly. One particular time I remember, it was during tech week which is stressful in thousands of ways, and I was helping Mr. Harmon take notes, but then I also had to talk to people on tech to fix lights and fix when people were coming on stage. So I had a headset on in one ear and I had Mr. Harmon giving me notes in the other ear. So I’m talking to about five or six different people at the same time and just being able to articulate your words in a way that gets the point across quickly is very important and something that I was able to work on a lot,” Sepulveda said.
As seniors, Sepulveda and Faust reflect on how they found a home on and off the stage at Maine West. “It’s a fun experience and being able to support your peers that are onstage is always good. Not even on stage, but also your friends that are backstage and working and making the show come together is always important,” Sepulveda said.
“Probably just being able to have fun and be someone else for a little bit. Especially when you’re focusing hard on your studies. It’s always nice to forget about finals, forget about Claire-problems, and focus in on your character’s problems. Even if their only little problem is that their husband doesn’t pay attention to them, like Alice in the Addams Family. You can make it a big problem and just forget about your own issues,” Faust said.
For Faust, getting involved at the musicals and plays at Maine West taught her how to find her confidence. “Finding confidence is the best thing that you can do for yourself inside and outside of acting. It’s weird, but playing other people gives you the perspective to know that you’re like a cool character. It sounds weird, but have you ever seen those posts where it’s like, ‘If you were a character in a book or movie, people would love you and love your quirks,’ so it’s kind of like that. If you think of yourself as a character, not that you’re pretending to be anyone. People will like you if you’re confident in who you are,” Faust said.