Live Theatre is Back and so is Blake Stage
As the arts and humanities school of the Northeast Consortium, Blake is well known for its theater program. But what goes into creating a successful show? The answer is a huge team of hardworking student actors, musicians, artists, carpenters, and technicians.
Blake Stage Company is currently hard at work putting together an almost completely student-produced show. The fall musical in the works is “Seussical: The Musical,” a show that mainly follows the popular Dr. Seuss story of “Horton Hears a Who” with the Cat in the Hat as the comical, omniscient narrator of the story.
“Seussical is kind of a melting pot of all Dr. Seuss stories,” said senior actor Ella Weikert, who plays Cat in the Hat (along with Kelvin Dukes).
I recently had the opportunity to attend an after school rehearsal for Seussical. The collaboration and work ethic of the cast and crew greatly impressed me. When I first arrived, I sat in on a crew meeting where the students in charge of lighting and sound went through the script and marked their cues. Director and U.S government teacher Mary Wagner worked with the crew as they prepared. I then observed as crew members fixed the actors with lavalier microphones (AKA body mics).
“Everything seems to be coming together now,” Ms. Wagner said, “The set is almost finished, the lights are almost finished, they have microphones and costumes, it’s looking good”.
The auditorium hummed with the sound of actors executing intricate vocal warm-ups and practicing their lines. I sat silently in awe, watching the team of students complete their various responsibilities. I had never realized how much dedication and hard work went into creating a musical. What stunned me most was the sheer amount of unity between every student involved. Whether they were actors, musicians, carpenters, artists, or technicians, they all worked together in harmony to produce a high quality show.
After a brief mic check, everyone was ready for a full run through of the show, complete with costumes, props, and music. I was surprised to realize that the huge, colorful set on stage was fully functional and weight-bearing. Head carpenter Cole Schenkel explained that the entire set was made by students.
“When I was a freshman, I learned from the juniors and seniors [on crew],” Schenkel told me during an after school rehearsal, “Now that I’m a senior, I’m passing on my knowledge to the underclassmen”.
Though producing a musical is certainly an exciting experience, it comes with a great deal of hardships as well.
“It’s definitely a lot of work memorizing lines and songs, as well as blocking,” Weikert said in an interview.
I caught a few slip-ups within the 2-hour show, but for the most part the performance went flawlessly. The excited energy that filled the auditorium was palpable. Everyone seemed eager to be back to in-person theater.
However, student director Joe Huddle explained that putting on a show during the covid era has been a challenge.
“People just aren’t as into it this year because of covid,” Huddle said, “We got a very low turnout for auditions this year which was tough”.
Despite all of the covid-induced obstacles this year including masks and CDC guidelines, Stage Company seems to be in high spirits.
“Theater kids have such great energy … it really is contagious and we all just love to be together and feed off of eachother,” Huddle remarked.
The most notable aspect of Stage Company has to be the genuine friendship and chemistry between all of the students. The group works together like a well-oiled machine, executing each task skillfully and with care. Producing this musical simply wouldn’t be possible without the true unity that I witnessed at the rehearsal.
“I think, honestly, the best part of Seussical has been the people,” Weikert expressed, “Everyone has been working really hard to put on this show”. These students take their various responsibilities very seriously, and it shows in the quality of their rehearsals. It was incredible to get a glimpse into the behind the scenes of Blake Stage Company and all of the talented students involved in it. After a successful performance for elementary and middle schoolers on Wednesday, cast and crew alike are so excited to welcome you into their world! Make sure to support our brilliant students by seeing Seussical: The Musical at Blake High School on November 12, 13, 19, and 20 at 7:30pm!