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Backstage Spotlight: A Peek Behind the Curtain of FHE’s Theatre Department

Theatre. A lively art that has been an important part of Eastern’s culture for countless years. Whether a musical or a play, theatre is an outlet for numerous students at FHE to express themselves and their love of singing, acting, and performing. It is an art that not only entertains audiences but also entices them with stories that can only be brought to life on stage. But with the focal point of theatre performances being the actors and dancers who provide entertainment, audience members may wonder: who changes the sets? Who makes the costumes? Who is the lighting being controlled by? Who gets it all done? Behind the scenes of the plays and musicals FHE has performed, there is a certain group of people whose job contributes a huge amount to what makes a barren stage come to life. The members of Forest Hills Eastern Theatre Crew do exactly this. 

Malia Ludovico is a junior at Forest Hills Eastern and is one of many crew members for theatre. Besides being in crew, she has a strong passion for illustration and drawing, which she feels helps a lot with costuming and makeup. Malia’s primary goal for the new year is to make improvements academic-wise. She wishes to compete with her first-semester self to look for places where she wants to make progress. Her family has some background in the performing arts as Malia has cousins who like to sing and act. In addition to this, her brother does ballet, so the two have a bond over their love of performing arts. She first became interested in theatre in 8th grade during her time as a cast member in The Little Mermaid Jr. musical. Malia then felt inspired to take part in the crew as she explains, “I liked it [when] I was in the cast, but then I saw the crew work and I realized that was what I wanted to do.” She then made that alteration by joining crew for the play her freshmen year. Malia has worked with crew four times in her high school career. 

The role that the crew plays is extremely vital when it comes to how a certain musical or play should be portrayed. Several elements of crew add elements that enhance the show such as lighting, sound, costumes, props, sets, and makeup. Likewise, the running crew takes on the job of setting scenes in between blackouts or scene changes. Overall, the crew’s task, Malia explains, is to “focus on what looks best on the stage.” Leadership is an aspect of Malia’s personality that she feels is easily able to shine during her theatre crew experience. “I don’t get a lot of that opportunity in a classroom so crew gives me that opportunity to be a leader,” she explained. Another reason she holds a great passion for crew is the idea of contributing to the theatre without being on stage. It’s an excellent convenience for students who have an affection for the art but may not want to have the sort of spotlight that cast members receive. Not only is there a relationship that is formed with the other crew members, but Malia describes the relationship that grows between her and the cast as well. “You have to form some kind of relationship with people who are actually in the cast because you want to get to know them,” she points out. Trust is a major component of that bond. Both groups need to understand each other to have a more efficient rehearsal or live performance.

Malia believes more students at FHE should become involved in the theatre crew because of the amazing working environment. She can also say the same for the group of people that she has the chance to collaborate with on musicals and plays. “ A lot more people should get involved because it can be really fun and it’s not as stressful as being on stage. So if you like theatre but you wouldn’t like to be on stage then crew, that’s the way to go.” Besides crew being a great way to become involved in school activities, Malia also justifies why more people should give better acknowledgment to the crew: “because they’re in the background and they’re backstage, most of the time we don’t get a lot of recognition until we take a bow at the end of a play.” What the crew brings to FHE theatre is more than essential, and their hard work is something that shouldn’t go without admiration and appreciation. Aside from this, Malia considers having a future in costume design, not only because of her experience in crew, but also because she was inspired by watching her brother do ballet. Watching him and seeing all the varieties of costumes used in his performances, she feels it would be intriguing to have a career in that certain profession. Presently, Malia will be working as a costume and makeup crew member for Eastern’s production of Seussical, which will be premiering in February. 

Featured Image courtesy of Malia Ludovico.

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