The Student News Site of Omaha South High School

The Tooter

The Student News Site of Omaha South High School

The Tooter

The Student News Site of Omaha South High School

The Tooter

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A glimpse behind the curtain for SOC

Stage crew member shares ‘backstage magic,’ prep details
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The South Omaha Classic is a show choir competition held annually in February at Omaha South High School with up to 4,000 people from both in and out of the state coming to view the two-day spectacular.

I volunteered to be a part of the stage crew for the South Omaha Classic this year to grow my skills as a stage-crew hand. I decided to take my experience and log it over the course of two weeks so I could share the backstage magic with the public and give South’s stage crew the credit they deserve.

Backstage preparations for the event took almost two weeks plus the two nights of performance.

Two weeks before the show, Jennifer Brown, South stagecraft and theatre instructor, gathered the volunteers for stage crew and set us to work.

First, we had to take everything off the stage. This included dozens of tables and chairs, props and projects left out by students, unused structures and platforms, and all of the shelves holding art and workshop supplies. We took them down by lowering the pit into the catacombs and taking more than six trips to get everything in. Once the stage was clear, we fully swept down, mopped and then painted the floor black over this year’s collection of paint splatters and messes.

One of the stagecraft classes then set up blue lights behind the legs. I personally spent an hour untangling blue Christmas lights and hanging them over a batten about 10 feet in the air. We also hung them over a table and shelf and a portable staircase flipped on its back.

Friday night preparations began about midday, but things really started to get going once school ended. We went to the theatre where we cleaned the house AGAIN and moved all the platforms, instruments and cords onto the stage. We set up rope fences in the hallways and moved tons of food and drinks into the cafeteria for concessions. Once the middle school show choirs started arriving around 5:30 p.m. that Friday, we carried their costumes, props and sets into the scene shop through the workshop elevator.

Our main job Friday was to provide traffic control for the middle schoolers and to keep everything running smoothly. The middle schoolers were extremely loud, and we spent a lot of time shushing them; some left their costumes backstage accidentally. I personally spent my time on Friday in the lighting booth helping run lights and give opinions on color choices for the stage. I also supported the main light runner by bringing her tables, food and general information about the goings-on backstage. Around 11 p.m., the show ended, and a couple of other crew members and I stayed behind to sweep the stage and clean up.

On Saturday I woke up at 5 a.m. and showed up to school at 7 a.m. Immediately, we cleaned out the house and opened the lobby. Around 8 a.m., I was given a radio and started running the elevator for the incoming high school show choirs. People had tons of fun riding up and down on it to load in their stuff. Multiple schools brought in full sets with trees, spaceships, fences, etc., while others only brought in their costumes. One crew brought in a whole tree house and ropes and trees. It took us more than an hour to get everything into the building and onto the stage. Once all the schools got loaded in, we got a 40-minute break, and then I got to work backstage helping actors do costume changes and making sure the backstage was clear of obstacles.

This experience was extremely rewarding, and I will 100 percent be doing this again next year and in the years to come. In fact, I am beginning to prepare my myself for a future career in the stagecraft and theatre pathway. It is an experience I think everyone should have at least once.

PS: Pick up your trash in the theatre; we clean it a lot.

Editor’s Note: This article contains opinions of the author.

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  • C

    C NelsonMar 1, 2024 at 11:19 am

    What an interesting article about the demands of the stage crew! Thank you for sharing and for your hard work!

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