Although it sounds fun, Seussical the Musical is more than just a rhyme packed show. It takes hours upon hours of work, dedication, and sweat and tears. The production starts with the idea of a set. The woman in charge of the set is the Technical Director, Ms. Heather Christianson ‘01. She is the mastermind […]
Although it sounds fun, Seussical the Musical is more than just a rhyme packed show. It takes hours upon hours of work, dedication, and sweat and tears.
The production starts with the idea of a set. The woman in charge of the set is the Technical Director, Ms. Heather Christianson ‘01. She is the mastermind behind the beautiful, award winning sets of each CB theater production. Her job entails designing sets, light cues and anything relating to tech within the show.
The current Seussical set pops with bright, loud colors and a fantastical array of trees and backgrounds that feel taken straight out of the children’s books.
“We went to his books”, Artistic Director, Mr. Jackson says. “Oh the Places You’ll Go and the Lorax had architecture in it that we were like ‘oh these kind of structures.’”
“You take those ideas and blend them with what you know about how this space functions and that really helps you come up with an idea,” Ms. Christianson added.
These ideas do not simply appear. “We usually start talking about the set six months in advance.” Ms. C says. “We actually start building it ten weeks out from the show and it can take anywhere from six weeks if it’s fast or all ten weeks if it isn’t.”
Every week requires hours of work to create a detailed set that helps form the show. But Ms. C is not the only one behind the set. For a few Saturdays leading up to the show, students have the opportunity to learn more and contribute to the creation of the set. Ms. C leads students in the birth of every show’s set and is a mentor to those who do not necessarily like to be in the spotlight.
As the set is built, the actors learn lines, songs, and choreography taught by Mr. Jackson.
“In June I’ll spend some time planning out — if it is a musical, planning out the choreography.” Mr. Jackson says.
Mr. Jackson starts reading the script over a year in advance. “Thinking about what he needs in terms of platforms or entrances or exits and he‘ll draw a little floor plan for me,” says Ms. C. of Mr. Jackson’s input into the set design.
And all of this preparation happens all before auditions have even happened. But once rehearsal begins, it’s crunch time. “As much hours as we rehearse is as many hours in addition that I probably work on it.” Mr. Jackson explains.
“I was finishing it tech week,” he says of how long the Elly Award winning production of Singing in the Rain took to finish creating costumes.
Anna Deukmejian (’23) puts in “two hours, maybe a little more” of work work into the show each day and “right around eight [hours] maybe another hour for however long I work on it at home” a week.
“I stay on top of my schoolwork and my other club and I do my work during theater rehearsal if I have the opportunity to,” Anna says of her method to keeping up with a busy schedule.
At rehearsal, actors start with learning songs and lines together to get a sense of the show. “Rehearsal is one of my favorite parts besides performing,” says Aubriana Lene (’23).
Soon after, they’re thrown on stage and taught dances to match the recently learned songs. Mr. Jackson adds in blocking and moves the actors around to create a scene that is visually pleasing. “Being able to watch the entire production go from learning only music to staging and then adding in sets, costumes, etc. — you begin to watch the entire show come to life!” Aubri says.
After weeks of rehearsal, tech week begins and the production is in full swing. Costumes are on, the stage is lit and the props are in place. “There is a reason tech week is described as ‘hell week’ for performers. Long hours, doing the show full out and having no breaks sometimes — it can become exhausting and stressful,” she says.
Three tech rehearsals happen before the first showing, all of which feel like the show isn’t ready for a showing. But the Thursday staff preview comes around and nerves increase every hour and the actors prepare themselves for disaster. 6:00 PM check in arrives and the whole crew is off to work.
“In that hour you need to do hair, makeup, warmups for your voice, mic check, get your costume on, and have all your props ready,” Aubri says.
And before they know, the show is done. The crowd gives a standing ovation as bows are completed and smiles on the faces of everyone are bright enough to blind someone. But the next three days will be full of chaos.
“Performances are a lot easier for me than tech week,” Aubri says. “If I could get through tech, then I feel I can get through six to eight performances or more.”
Opening night and the two performances that weekend follow the staff showing. And then they do it all over again the next weekend.
Seussical is a show worth seeing. The actors, band, staff and tech crew put countless hours of work into creating a wonderful show. The performances are November 11-13 and 18-20, every member of the cast values anyone who shows up. Coming and visiting one of the performances benefits the CB community and pays off all the hard work of the cast. Now that you know the secret behind the show, come see the show.