The Unsung Heroes of Theatre

Though often underrated, stage crew is essential to any Skutt Catholic theatre production

Natalie Pearson, Guest Writer

New director? New stage managers? No problem for Skutt Catholic stage crew, whose members have shown that sometimes the most unassuming people are actually the most powerful of all. Despite some changes, stage crew is still pushing forward with the fall musical, “The Sweet Smell of Success.”

The musical focuses on newspaper-writer J.J. Hunsecker, his younger sister Susan, and a well-­rounded cast of supporting characters, all set in “The Fabulous ’50s.” “’The Sweet Smell of Success,’ at its heart, is a story about the ways we love each other,” says the new Director, Will Wright. “You will see characters with very flawed relationships trying to make things work, and you will see true love in its best form. This theme is played out through a wonderful story about the newspaper business in 1950s New York,” Wright continued. Needless to say, this production looks to be a promising one—even without Bill Howard.

Howard was Skutt Catholic’s CAD (Computer Aided Drafting) teacher who also played a huge role in the theatre department, having built nearly all the sets since the school’s opening in 1993. This year will be the first without him, and he is missed by students and teachers alike. “Mr. Howard was one of the nicest people I knew,” says stags crew member Becky Snowden. “He kept everyone focused while still keeping the mood light, he solved problems quickly, and he managed to figure out how to make some of our more intriguing sets—say, for instance, a pool—work with our stage. It’s strange and kind of awkward to be without him now, but the impressions he made will stay with our theatre department for years to come.” Snowden continued.

They certainly will, that’s for sure. And with a sudden influx of new members, it looks as though all seven types of stage crew are still going strong, even in his absence. The specific branches of stage crew include building, running, props, costumes, makeup, and tech (lights and sound) crews.

The Building Crew, exactly as it sounds, builds and decorates all of the sets needed for productions. Running Crew “runs” set pieces on and off during the show when needed and opens and closes the curtains. Props Crew is in control of the two prop tables and makes sure the stage is set before and after performances. Props Crew also helps the cast members get the right props at the correct time in the show. Costume Crew helps with quick costume changes and organizes the costumes, makes sure they’re clean, etc. The one crew that is not needed for every production is Makeup. Makeup Crew organizes the makeup and helps cast members apply makeup if they don’t know how to do it. It depends on how capable the cast is with cosmetics. Those crews are commonly called, as a whole, the Backstage Crew, excluding building. Lights and Sound Crews come together to form the Tech Crew. There are different positions in Tech Crew, a.k.a. “designers” and “runners.” Again, exactly as they sound, designers design the lights and sound for the show and the runners run (operate) them. Stage managers oversee everything, making sure the cast and crew are at the top of their game during rehearsals and shows.

Yes, even though they often go unnoticed, stage crew is extremely vital to any production. They are truly the “unsung heroes” here—you could say, without them, the show couldn’t go on.

Hope Stratman - Features Editor

Hope became a member of The Flightline in August of 2016. She is a senior this year involved in activities including Speech and FBLA. Outside of school, she enjoys lists, photography, and naming inanimate objects. You can email her at [email protected]