Behind the Scenes of A Chorus Line
People were running around the room, working to prepare the show before dress rehearsal began. The stage manager was trying to make sure everything was in place. Actors were half-dressed, practicing their kick line. The costume department was preparing the quick-change stations for the actors who would only have seconds to change entire costumes in seconds.
Despite the scene appearing hectic, it was a routine — this is not an uncommon scene two days before the opening night of a show.
"A Chorus Line" is the University Theatre's first musical of the 2016-17, and was performed Nov. 9-13. The musical was originally written as an off-Broadway production in 1976 that has gained popularity over the years. The plot circles around 16 dancers’ hope to be casted in a Broadway show. They share their life story and express their love of dance throughout the show — until things get complicated when the director has a conflict of interest.
“We work really hard to make sure that crew is put on the same level as the cast," said Keeley Stanley-Bohn, director and a theater professor. "That’s why our cast has to take a basic theater tech course and crew takes an acting class. We work really hard to keep everyone in check and remind everyone that they are all working towards the same goal.”
But the crew doesn’t always get the same spotlight the cast does.
“Something people wouldn’t know about theater unless they were in (the show) is that crew is (always) there and doing stuff. I don’t think people realize how many people are backstage working,” said stage crew member Lily Teneyck.
Teneyck runs flyers, a system of backstage pulley’s that are connected to props and set pieces allowing things to be moved without seeing the stage crew or setting the props and sets fully on stage.
But according to Carolyn Norris, a stage crew member who works hazers and flyers, the lack of recognition is worth it.
“We’re all a big happy family. We have our moments and our issues but at the end of the day we are all just a family," he said.
Melanie Eickhoff, stage manager of the show, is required to be at every rehearsal to ensure it runs smoothly.
“I think it’s easy to forget all the pieces to the puzzle sometimes. I always remember that a show with actors and no crew would just be people screaming naked in the dark but a show with a crew and no actors is just a light show.” Eickhoff said.
The cast finishes their pre-show prep and the crew puts things in their place for the opening scene. Everything is coming together and there is a silence that falls over the theater as things start.
“I think one of the best parts of doing a show is seeing it all come together. When the music, the lights, the set, and the acting all work together to create a really great show," Teneyck said. "That’s definitely my favorite part.”