A Peek Backstage

Mulan, cast at Fire Hall“I’ll make a man out of you!” So sing the young actors to Victoria Rose Lee, as Mulan, on stage at the Fire Hall Theatre last weekend. The cast of 28 have been rehearsing the show since early September, along with their younger counterparts who have been rehearsing The Nightingale, with a cast of 33, ages 6-11.
My objective in writing this blog is to give lovers of theatre a peek backstage. I think audiences have an idea about what goes into putting an amateur theatre production together, but most don’t know the depth of it. Actually, it’s not something performers and producers want them to think about. The art is in making it look easy. The lines flow out of an actor’s mouth and the audience should not be worried that the actor is searching his memory for the next word. The song comes “tripping of the tongue” and the audience shouldn’t worry if the singer is going to forget the lyrics.
That said, I believe that knowing more about what goes on backstage will invite even greater appreciation for the production audiences see. For example, when you see Mulan, you will appreciate the beautiful kimonos worn by the young actresses, and even a few actors. But did you know that those costumes were handmade, not ordered in, and that they were created primarily by one woman who has a full-time job teaching children with special needs during the day, and has five children of her own, all of whom have band, chorus, voice and piano lessons to be shuttled to in the midst of 8 hours of rehearsals a week – after a full day?
The audiences that were on their feet applauding last weekend at Mulan probably have no idea that due to a contractual error with the publishing house, the directors and performers did not get their scripts until a full week into rehearsal, so the typical six-week rehearsal was compromised. They also do not know that one of the directors experienced the death of her father in the third week of rehearsals, causing her to miss a week. The audience doesn’t know that her co-director stepped up that week and directed the younger kids show, The Nightingale, and the older kids’ Mulan, a total of 61 kids, with the assistance of one teen helper. They can’t possibly know how many hours Dave Dauphanais, the parent of one of the actors, put into researching how we could safely have fire on stage, and how seriously he takes his responsibility of handling it backstage.
Perhaps the audience knows when they walk into the lobby of the Fire Hall Theatre that a lot of parents volunteered to create a beautiful entrance to the show . Perhaps they also know how very proud those 61 kids are of their efforts, when they see them beaming as they take their stage bows.
I think they know how important the performing arts are in a young person’s life.
Yeah. I think they know that.

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