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Making a Musical

By: Skylar Secord/Content Editor

As someone who has been a stage manager of and/or performed in more than thirty productions in about six years I know a couple of things about making a musical.  I’m not a pro by any measure, but the years of piecing together a live performance has taught me the basics.  Months of preparation are poured into something shown on stage for a couple of hours.  Before anyone auditions you get a plan, at least that’s the case for our local community theater (EMTC) and the Blue Ridge Theater Department.  This plan includes the days of the show, a vague schedule plan, set, backdrop, costuming, lighting, and sound requirements.  While the schedule and costumes can’t be formed without the actors, the rest can and is for the most part.  Sets are designed and props are gathered at a minimum of one month in advance.  Costumes are designed as soon as the process starts and as soon as the actors are involved, said costumes are designed as well.

After that is the easy part– all you have to do is block and choreograph every scene and hope to God that the actors learn all of their songs and lines in two months.

Who better than Ms. Zakarauskas, the choir director and long-time theater vet, to add some input the struggle and fruitfulness of creating a show?

RR: About how much time do you believe is put into creating a show?

Z: Two plus hours per day for rehearsal.  Each dance number probably takes three hours to choreograph.  Each five page scene probably takes an hour to block depending on the complexity of the stage direction. If I am lucky enough to have actors that already know how to interpret the script, less time goes into blocking because they already know much of what to do.  Building the set can take several days depending on the complexity of the design. Add in painting and finishing touches and it can be 50+ hours.  Adding in many other things, I am not sure if I can put a number on it.

RR: How many people do you think it takes to make a show?

Z: In a larger school district we would have a producer, director, musical director, etc. and teams of parents and community members that would get involved. For most of the production it is a one woman show and it absolutely shouldn’t be. I am very lucky to have Jennifer Parsons and her costume crew, Sarrah Camburn and the Art Department and a couple handy set builders. Help is always wanted and appreciated for productions of this size!

RR: What has been your favorite show to direct?

Z: By far, my favorite production was “Little Shop of Horrors”. I used to watch that movie and sing along dreaming I was Audrey since I was a kid. I think it was cast perfectly and I am incredibly proud of our set.

RR: Which show do you think has been the most intensive regarding set and/or props?  Costuming?

Z: Our set during “Little Shop of Horrors” was massive. We had two 12′ high brick buildings flanking the stage and a giant center flower shop that never moved. We even found a dentist chair unused in the nurses office for our production. For costuming, you may have to ask Mrs. Parsons, but I would say “Cinderella”. Jennifer Parsons made a dress that transformed Julia Stanley from a pauper to a princess in the blink of an eye.

Even with our small school and limited resources we still pull together some amazing productions thanks to fantastic people, groups, and the local community.  The productions at Blue Ridge stand out in this community and in this county quite frankly.  Hours of work, mountains of effort, and an amazing support system all come together to make our shows beautiful every year.  We turned to ask Ms. Zakarauskus what exciting plans she has coming up.

RR: What do you have planned for the high school show this year?

Z: Our high school musical is “The Wizard of Oz”. It is one of my favorite shows, and is something I’ve wanted to direct for a long time. Everyone knows the story of Dorothy Gale trying to return home to Kansas with her friends the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion. It is a huge production and I think it will be exciting to do such a familiar and well-loved show at Blue Ridge.

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The Raider Reader staff is made up of students from Blue Ridge High School who are part of the school's journalism class. Students write, edit and produce the the news found at RaiderReader.Org.

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