Beyond The Curtains


Brooklyn D'Alessio

Freshmen Spencer Madsen and Avery Dodd, and seniors Sylvia Harrington and Kyle Jensen rehearse for “Mary Poppins” on Feb. 21 in the Cafeteria. They have been rehearsing the show, which will premiere on Feb. 28, for four months.

Colvin Parvin, Staff Writer

     In 17 years, science teacher Shana Hains, has never missed a WAHS musical. “When you first come to the cafeteria and you see the set and the kiddos,” Hains said, ”then the music starts, and whoever I bring thinks it’s recorded when it’s not” — that’s the best part. That magical experience created by the cast and crew, though, starts well before that point and is attributable to a lot that is going on behind the scenes, most of which the audience will never see.

     From Dec. 3 to Feb. 28, the musical “Mary Poppins” was planned and prepared by the event tech, production, and set crews. One class in particular, the tech crew cut bracing for the front of the stage. Addressing the type of work that the Tech Crew does for the musical, originally Event Tech was going to design the set, but Welsh took the liberty and designed the set all throughout Winter break and took overall charge of the set building. 

     The students take pride in executing the ideas of their directors, drama and choir teacher Cate Caffarella, who is directing the 16th musical she has been a part of; band teacher Stuart Welsh, who handles the orchestra, live music, and set; and costume designer Gwen Christianson, who handles costumes and makeup.

     When it comes to getting the resources for the play, such as money and materials, things become fairly scarce. For example, the wood is not paid for by the school; all of it is donated by Arauco. However, the school does pay for almost all of the lighting and sound equipment and most of the technology. Makeup, costume material, and other resources are paid for from the year before, except when people bring in their own makeup and other supplies. According to Manske, the musical “just got 3,000 pounds of wood shipped in.” These materials go into the set and other props. 

     Lead actress senior Lexie Lundgreen’s six years of experience with musicals have made the process familiar. Yet, she says “Mary Poppins” is different. 

     ”The magic in the show is so central to what it’s all about,” Lundgreen said. “Mary Poppins comes, and she’s this magical being. What Welsh and the other tech crew have done is they made it so that doors can open by themselves, and things can pop up by themselves.” 

     “Magical” doors, hatches, and windows are just a few of the innovations that make this particular show unique. Audiences can also expect some flying scenes.

     “I think what is really different is it is really well known,” Caffarella said, “that the big productions in it, like… ‘Jolly Holiday,’ and ‘Step in Time,’ are all their own worlds within the play.”

     All of those different worlds require their own designs, which tech crew member senior Eric Allam says make this build distinct. “The last two musicals have had a lot of revolves,” Allam said. “This one has a lot more set pieces, which are taller than what we normally use.”     

     For all involved in making the production of a musical possible, it’s a long process, and while they hope the production will be exciting for the audience, it’s about more than just the end product.

     “Acting is like Halloween,” Lundgreen said. “You get to be someone else, and so I’ve had the opportunity to create characters and create their motifs, and how they talk and act, and it’s a really beautiful process. I feel like I’ve really found myself through acting.” 

           ”My favorite thing about ‘Mary Poppins’ and the musical in general is the people I get to work with,” Caffarella said. “I really, really enjoy the collaboration, [and]… I love the creativity and that we get to pool together and create this.”