By: Abygail Durdella
Mary Poppins, Jane, Michael, and Bert are meeting for the first time, when Bert says the words, “A wonderland!” The curtains open to another scene, the background changes, lights start to fly around the stage, actors are entering and singing, and music starts to play. At the moment everyone is paying attention to the dancers, nobody sees a girl pulling open the curtain, or a boy running from where he’d just pushed a bench onstage, or a group of people putting makeup and mics on those heading onto the stage. Most people don’t bother to think through what’s needed for the show to go on besides the actors, and those who do often wonder why these people do the thankless job. However, many members of the tech crew would simply reply that the job isn’t thankless at all. Watching the show come together, perfecting techniques, and seeing people excited about the show always makes the tech crew celebrate.
To know exactly what theater tech is, you first have to understand the main teams put into place. Tech can be split into six major areas. Stage managing, audio, lighting, deck, cameras, and costume. Stage managing is exactly what it sounds like, managing the stage. This includes organizing meetings, wrangling students, calling out cues (which are changes in scenes, lighting, and such), recording and finding fixes for anything wrong, and general management. Audio includes creating sound effects, putting mics on actors and on the stage, as well as designing a plot for said mics that successfully captures the band, tap dancing, and any lines or song said by actors. Lighting features setting up any extra lights not already on stage, creating an atmosphere through designing lighting, spot lights, and some special effects managed through the light board. Deck is essential in tracking down students, handling backstage, completing set scenes, doing some special effects, pulling the curtains, and handling props. Cameras handle recording and editing footage, creating promo videos, and capturing the moments on stage. Costume handles both makeup and dressing the many actors in their signature looks. Mary Poppins used over thirty people to handle the many technical aspects, nearly twenty of them being students who volunteered to work tech. Some of whom had never been a part of tech ever before. With over eighty hours of work on the show within a week and a half, the show turned out beautiful thanks to the combined efforts of actors, band, and tech.
This play was, “A wonderful learning experience,” in the words of David Bartle, the technical director of the Mary Poppins, as well as, “An amazing show,” in Chelsey Everhart, director of Mary Poppins, words. Many students commented that though it was exhausting, it was an amazing time. Savannah Durham, a student and the prop master of Marry Poppins, described the shattering of the heirloom, which was taped together by her to be broken easier, as the most satisfying moment in the show. While the deck crew lead, John Kolesch, said that the perfect transition of scenes, where all items were in place on time with no sightings of tech crew members on stage, was beautiful. Cambria Darling, a student and spotlight operator, told others that a deck crew member’s dive over the beds to escape the stage before the curtain opened was hilarious and made her laugh. All together, the tech crew had many laughs, built a camaraderie, and learned a lot. This show, though not the first with tech crew students, was the largest and most technically involved show yet with them. With an awe inspiring example in Mary Poppins, we can only eagerly await the next show, and the future of Orange Lutheran’s student tech program.