Arts & Reviews

Blithe Spirit: The Unique Details that Occur Behind The Scenes

By Jessica Rizzo

Most audiences do not realize what goes into a show beyond the actors’ performances. There is a great deal of work and responsibility that goes into the success of a show, particularly behind the curtain. For the production of Blithe Spirit, I had the opportunity to be a part of this crew and became enlightened on an experience that most people could never imagine.

Last month the students of James Caldwell High School performed Blithe Spirit on October 23-25. The show was a huge success, both onstage and backstage. Onstage, all actors and actresses executed their lines with perfection and succeeded in making the audience laugh. Backstage, everyone performed their diverse jobs effectively. Below I will list some of the responsibilities and jobs of the backstage crew that may come as a shock.

 

  • After each rehearsal or performance, props must be perfected, such as glasses that had to be washed and then refilled.  Behind the curtains a large prop table was located that held all of the props that were to be used during Blithe Spirit. Before each show the crew had to make sure all props were in the right place and any props Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 4.07.33 PMfrom the previous performance were cleared/ reset. Additionally, during the show, the actors had to have “martinis” and other drinks. Therefore, wine and martini glasses need to be washed so that for the next performance the glasses remained nice and clean. After they were washed, these glasses returned to the exact place they were found so the actors knew where they were onstage. The next day before the show, large containers needed to be filled with water and iced tea to serve as their “drinks” for the performance.
  • Sandwiches were made. Who would’ve thought sandwiches were part of a show about a seancé? When Madame Arcati came to Charles’ house to meet with Ruth, they enjoy tea and “cucumber” sandwiches. These sandwiches (really made with just jelly) were prepared “fresh” before each show. They were not fake, of course, and it is no wonder why Madame Arcati loved them so much.
  • Glass needed to be cleaned up. If you saw Blithe Spirit, you may remember that a glass vase broke two times. The glass was not real; in fact, the glass was sugar glass. Once the vase was thrown members of the crew came out to sweep it up, and then replace it with another identical sugar vase.
  • The fan must be controlled. Whenever a ghostly character entered the set, the fan was switched on from behind a curtain to suggest a ghost was floating in. Additionally, it made the mood of the show eerie and mysterious. Therefore, there was an actual stand fan directly behind the curtain and a member of the crew had to sit right next to it for the entire show, waiting for the right cues to turn it on.
  • The back of the set had to be painted black. Nearly everyone in the crew participated in this job. The crew spent hours painting the back of the wood supporting the set for the show black. The reason for this was to prevent any of the light brown wood from being seen from the audience or reflected by the lights in any way.
  • Lighting and sound effects. As you may recall, during certain scenes the lights flickered on and off onstage to show that ghosts were around. Students controlled the lighting and also the sound effects, such as rain, wind whistling, and even a car crash. Further, several members of the crew worked the spotlight that had to be put on only at certain moments during the show. This took a lot of precision and accuracy.
  • Costumes and Makeup. Before each show, each costume was carefully ironed and hung on a rack. There was also an entire makeup crew that worked tirelessly before the show. This crew did each actor’s hair and helped to put on their makeup.

 

These were just some of the most unique tasks that the backstage crew was responsible for. If you or anyone you know is interested in being apart of the crew for Suessical the Musical, be sure to contact Miss Baglivio in room 401 during mods 9-10. To print out a crew packet, log on to cwcboe.org/jchs and visit Miss Baglivio’s page. It truly is an incredible experience.