Actually Happens Behind the Scenes in a Stage Production

By Lily Cooper
Professional Writing major, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Actors moving across a state in a theater production

When putting on a show, it takes more than just a cast to make it happen. The most important people are behind the curtains, handling costumes, lights, setting up props and more. Without them, the show wouldn’t go on and be as flawless as it is.

We asked a few students in the College of Fine Arts and Production what actually happens behind the scenes. Check them out below:

More People Backstage than Onstage

Ashely Gennaro says that with almost every production that is put on, there are more people behind the curtain than onstage. She goes on to say, “These people work seamlessly, like cogs in a machine or like a well-choreographed dance, to make the production seamless so the actors can focus on performing and serving the others.”

When you are backstage, it is all about serving others and truly being passionate about the art of theatre and what it means. It doesn’t seem as glamorous as being in the lights onstage, but it is truly one of the most important things to do in a production. Without the people backstage, the show wouldn’t be what it is.

It’s Like Baking a Cake

Camryn McCullers uses the comparison of putting on a performance to baking a cake. She says, “Sure, at 7:30 pm everyone will come over, sit down, enjoy the flavor, the frosting and the filling, but you have to bake it first, several hours beforehand.”

At 4 pm the crew is already setting up for a 7:30 show. They sweep the stage, vacuum the lobby, set up the props, pull out the hair supplies, iron the costumes and so much more. At 7:30 they start to change costumes on actors who have a few seconds before their next scene and take props from the changing set so actors can find them easily.

McCullers comments, “They’re behind you, watching the show much more closely than you are, to make sure the lights change and sound effects rise and fall in the rhythm to the actors’ movements and thoughts. All these jobs are so technical, yet just like actors, crew members are players, plucking at your heartstrings and changing your evening at least and your worldview at most.”

Singing Show Tunes in the Dressing Room

Allissa Beadle says that for every show she has ever been in that there has been “rituals.” Before every show, the cast or a group of people will get together and do a chant, handshake, song or a prayer circle. She comments, “It’s really fun and brings the cast closer together.”

As for “behind the scenes” moments, Alissa says there is plenty for every show due to the high on adrenaline or stress. A lot of the times they will all end up singing show tunes in the dressing rooms or even write their own “awful” musicals.

Interested in seeing a show starring your favorite Grand Canyon University students? Ethington Theatre is presenting Macbeth, an epic tragedy that, “captures the brutality of blind political ambition and bloody fight for power.” It premieres October 12 and tickets can be bought through the Ethington Theatre Box Office.

Written by Lily Cooper, a Professional Writing major.

If you want to learn more about Grand Canyon University’s arts program within the College of Fine Arts and Production, check out our website or click the Request More Information button on this page.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.