The Production of The Wedding Singer

Isabel Daumen and Taylor White, both members of the hair crew for The Wedding Singer, holding a promotional poster for the show. Shows begin on Thursday, April 19. (Photo courtesy of Matt Wiener)

Lights… camera….. Almost time for action. Hell week has set in for the Leesville Theater program, and has put each part of the program on edge.

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Leesville’s theater department presents The Wedding Singer. The work and production, however, started in January, at the start of the second semester.

“For the first few weeks, we were learning the songs, and then the dancing, then the acting and blocking. Now, this week, we have a full run, with the acts (dancing, singing and acting) with a curtain call in the end,” said David Marshall, sophomore at Leesville and part of the ensemble for The Wedding Singer.

For Brian Clarke, also a sophomore at Leesville, also a member of the ensemble team, the work is constant and consistent.”For ensemble, we’ll normally do a few full runs. It’s more or less working it as you go,” said Clarke.

Each part in the program– including costumes, props, lights, sounds, and actors–has continued to work and put in maximum each day after school to prepare the show to perfection.

For Shreeja Shah, senior and stage manager for the show is more than just a play. It’s become a lifestyle for all that are involved, which takes more and more time out of her schedule as show time comes closer and closer.

“As a stage manager, I’m basically in charge of everything. I’m the communication between tech and acting. I’m there before rehearsal starts and after rehearsal ends,” said Shah.

Shah, besides Katrina Tarson, the director of The Wedding Singer, runs the show like with passion and heart. Her countless hours of work for months on end for the show includes a wide variety of jobs. She works on blocking (stage directions), takes line notes, and calls cues. She is the self proclaimed “middleground” of the show, between tech and acting.

On the backstage side of the show, through the multiple teams that help contribute, the props team is an under recognized but key component of putting on a successful show for the theater program.

“Anything the actors wear or carry, we’re in charge of. We look for props, pull them out of the loft, and put them on stage and make sure the actors know how to use them,” said Alexa Forrestor, sophomore at Leesville and a part of the props team for The Wedding Singer.

Meanwhile, as other managers and assistants work around the clock, on the lookout for every crucial detail for both on and off stage, Tyler Emery, the Assistant Technical Director (ATD) of the show, works tirelessly for the backstage crew. As the overseer of all crew operations, Emery emphasized the importance of fun for not only the cast members, but crew as well, in order to create a fun-to-watch show.

“[The onstage crew had] rehearsals during the week, and tech has Saturdays.. We’re there working usually for 12 to 14 hours. I’m there during the tech days to make sure the tech and the acting are connecting together,” said Emery, senior.

As the backstage and technical elements of the show come together, the onstage actors and crew work just as hard to put the show together.

One actor, Loren Wait, senior at Leesville, playing the role of Julia Sullivan, has taken her character as a normal part of her lifestyle.

“In preparation for the role, I’ve learned lots of choreography, memorized lines and blocking, I learned how to phrase my lines and add emotion to them,” said Wait. Dedicated to her role, Wait hopes her everyday practices has a positive effect on her performance in the show.

“Getting to bring Julia Sullivan to life has been super cool,” said Wait.

While every part of the programs runs around flustered during the infamous ‘hell week’ (the week before the show), Shah continues to maintain a confidence for the program, no matter how hectic the ending time of rehearsals occur.

“At the beginning, rehearsals began at around 2:30, then ended around 4:30. But as show time came closer and closer, rehearsals started ending at around 6:30, right now it’s up until 8 o’clock, 9 o’clock, even 10 o’clock. I really don’t get any of my other work done,” said Shah, laughing.

Shah’s dedication, time and patience to the show results in her taking on a variety of jobs each rehearsal.

“I preset the stage, meaning I take out rehearsal props and any set pieces we need for that day. During rehearsal, if it’s a blocking day, I take notes on what went wrong, and by the end of the day, I make a report….I mainly take notes while overseeing, and helping Mrs. Tarson with basically anything she needs,” said Shah.

While show day is on the horizon, both the cast and crew of The Wedding Singer are at a stalemate of emotions, between the feelings uneasiness of preparation and poise that the show will be a success.

“I think as a whole, there is definitely a nervous energy throughout the department. But I also think that the butterflies we get before stepping onto the stage really help to fuel and energize our performances in the end,” said Wait, who is prepared for audiences.

What can audiences that bought a ticket for the show expect from the program? Shah fills in:

“[They can expect] a whole lot of laughter and a whole lot of fun. The biggest thing we have worked on this year is that the audience will not want to take their eyes off the show. They just won’t want to leave the show.”

The LRHS theater program and ITS puts on The Wedding Singer, with shows on Thursday and Friday, April 19 and 20 at 7:00 pm, and shows Sunday, April 21 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. This is a production not to miss.

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