Behind the Scenes of Bright Star

Jay takes us behind the scenes of Bright Star, Academy’s most recent musical.


Jade Stone '23

The cast of Bright Star takes a bow after the end of the song “Another Round” before the beginning of Act 2. An image from last year’s musical. Courtesy of Jade Stone ’23

Academy’s Production of Bright Star had a beautiful two-weekend run. The actors and band shone onstage. However, getting this show to an audience was a months-long process. As the actors in the spotlight were memorizing their lines and blocking, the backstage crew was hard at work bringing the show to life. Unfortunately, the crew’s efforts are not recognized as much as they should be. Following auditions in November, rehearsals began after Winter Break as well as a meeting between the technical director, Mr. Hogle, and Ms. Thomas, the director, where they discuss the aesthetic of the show and the best way to show the story.
Mr. Hogle worked with his stagecraft class during the day and the extracurricular crew in the afternoon—eighteen students in total, including two seventh graders! He and Ms. Thomas read through the script to establish her vision for the show. Mr. Hogle’s job is to “define the play visually,” with the school’s resources and timeframe. Mr. Hogle then hands the script to his students so they can brainstorm. From here, things become physical, and there is a lot of work to be done. Students hung and aimed lights, built scenery, and worked with costumes. When all of this is put together, and the time for the show arrives, there’s no time to relax. In this production, twenty performers had wireless microphones. The mics needed to be monitored live, as well as the pre-recorded audio and the band’s sound. Hovey Corbin ‘18 and Lex Kelly ‘24 took this challenge head-on and executed it beautifully. During the show’s actual run, there was lots of technical and backstage bustle. Two backstage dressers helped with quick changes, backstage prop handlers, and two follow spot (spotlight) operators worked with the rigging. Mr. Hogle says he is mostly around as a teacher and a guide but tries to let the students do the majority of the work.
Nate Shay ‘24 tackled the live lighting. During dress rehearsals and performances, when the light changed, it was Nate’s doing. He spent a lot of time in the weeks leading up to opening night modifying cues to make the show run as smoothly as possible. On a headset with much of the other crew, Nate took directions from stage manager Jade Stone ‘23. According to Jade, the crew’s responsibilities include “everything.” Their job is the “bridge between the technical and performative sides of a production.” Leading up to the show, stage managers watch the rehearsals and take note of where actors are on the stage, any lines that need to be reviewed, and ideas the director might have. Their most difficult job is probably keeping the actors quiet during rehearsals and backstage. On show nights and during tech week, Jade gets on their headset and calls lighting and sound cues. For this show, they called over two hundred cues.
Elias Arredondo ‘23, the costume designer, began pulling and tailoring pieces for the cast shortly after reading the script thoroughly. He created a mood board with photos of examples of pieces he thought represented the aesthetic of the show. To ensure the entire production felt cohesive, he worked closely with Mrs. Thomas and Mr. Hogle. During the runs, Elias did a lot of crisis management. He also made sure quick changes went smoothly and that costumes were readjusted during scene changes. There were even a few moments where he had to resew some buttons on a costume during a scene change. His work contributed massively to the stunning visuals of this show.
If any students are interested in working in the technical aspects of the theater, they are encouraged to talk to Mr. Hogle or Jade Stone. The department would love to have you!


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  • Mr. Hogle points to the lights in preparation for the production. Courtesy of Jade Stone’23.

  • Elias Arredondo’23 manages the crew. Courtesy of Jade Stone’23

  • Elias Arredondo’23 manages the crew. Courtesy of Jade Stone’23

  • A view from above. Courtesy of Jade Stone’23