Photos by Kent Leahy-Trill
More photos in the SMUS photo gallery.
by Erin Anderson, editor
The SMUS production of Guys and Dolls wraps up on Saturday night after a whirlwind run on the McPherson Playhouse stage. After the months of work that go into a full-scale musical production – from auditions to set construction to costume-making – students enjoy four short days in the spotlight. The show is an amazing achievement, not just for the polished product, but because of how it reaches out into all segments of our school community – faculty, staff, parents, students – and calls on them to get involved.
Below, Robert Common shares his perspective on the show from behind the scenes. If you saw the musical, worked the stage, played in the pit or performed, we’d love to hear your perspective in the comments section.
by Robert Common
Legs. Mains. Upstage Scrim. Skyline. Cyc. These are coloured labels taped on to the iron (probably steel) railings where some two dozen ropes are tethered, each on its own industrial pulley-wheel. Each rope has a vice-grip brake operated by a red lever.
Each rope is heavy duty one-inch manila or hemp, and each rises away up above to some lodgement of the Gods a hundred feet above our fragile human heads – where, no doubt, there is another set of iron wheels locked into the rafters.
The ropes are darkened with use. The back-stage dust is just sufficient to provide a fine powder, snowing subtly from on high where our painted scenes are stored in the dim theatrical heavens, awaiting in silence the song-and-dance of the exuberant performers below.
Rows of spot-lights, mounted on batons between the long side-leg curtains, face outward to cast beams of bright colour illuminating the stage action. Dust motes filter downward, passing momentarily through the seemingly-solid shafts of electrical radiance. Behind, all is darkness or reflected half-light. This is the underworld. This is Backstage. We are the morlocks, the denizens of the twilight world who haul the ropes which raise or lower the sets. The muffled sounds of the play reach us like the light — dim and distorted. We follow cue-numbers, an arcane cypher transmitted by wireless head-set to the black-clad workers standing ready at their fly posts, backs to the light, ears attuned to radio signals: “Stand by Fly 10…Fly 10 GO.”
One student, pointing at the iridescent pink tape, asked what Cyc meant. Did it have anything to do with psycho? Maybe.