Under the lights

What it’s like to be a thespian at St. George’s

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Photo: Caroline Zummach

A student performs on the stage at the Germantown Campus, home of the theater productions of St. George’s. The Gryphon Gazette will discover what it is like to be in a show at SGIS.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to stand under the lights as an audience gazes at you while you’re acting out a part that you have never rehearsed or performed on stage? Well, that’s exactly what junior Elle Vaughn had to do on April 30, the last performance of the upper school spring comedy, “Fools.”

Vaughn, the stage manager for the play, had to fill in for senior Ellie Babb after she had to leave one hour before for an emergency. This would be Babb’s last performance with St. George’s, and this was the show that Vaughn’s parents were attending. Her parents were met with shock when they saw their daughter acting on stage.

“I couldn’t pull off the type of persona that Ellie can pull off, but I heard Mr. McGraw laughing, so that’s good,” Vaughn said.

“In almost all other cases, though, a student begins the process of being in a show months before the performance, not an hour before.When a student at St. George’s decides to become involved with a production, they must first express their interest and audition. When auditioning, a student must read several parts from a script in front of the director. Freshman Will Brown is a first-time actor and played Gregor Youskevitch in “Fools,” a supporting role and one of the love interests to the lead female role.

“[I was] kind of nervous but okay,” Brown said describing the audition process. “It was a small group of people.”

Sutton Hewitt, a participant in five past plays here at St. George’s including “Fools,” encourages students to audition for shows.

“I’ve never found it scary or intimidating,” Hewitt said. “I always encourage people to come out and go for it because we are all really supportive.”

After auditioning, the actors stay after school and rehearse for several weeks until dress rehearsals, which involve running through the show once or twice a night with full lights, sound, makeup and costumes. After working diligently in these rehearsals, the cast and crew is able to relax and focus their attention on the final production.

The production is put on for three days, and students, teachers and anyone from the community is invited and encouraged to attend.

Hewitt, who suffers from minor stage fright, knows that her hard work pays off at the end of the production.

“What keeps me going is you get such an adrenaline rush when you are done, and you walk out and take your bow,” Hewitt said. “It’s the best feeling in the world.”

However, actors like Hewitt are not the only ones involved in the play, as there are makeup and costume designers as well as a full tech staff. Sophomore Margo Valadie joined the sound team during her freshman year and has been producing the behind-the-scene actions for four productions now.

Valdie enjoys producing the sound but knows that there is a lot of pressure to get it right.

“If you mess up sounds, it’s really noticeable,” she said. During the production of “Bye Bye Birdie,” the fire alarm was set off and Valadie panicked, thinking that she had somehow pushed a button that set off the loud sound.

All actors and crew seem to agree that there is more of a reward than just the applause they receive while taking their bow. The relationships formed in the theater department are ones that last forever.

Thespians at St. George’s are in agreement that acting is rewarding and suggest it to everyone.

“I’ve never found it scary or intimidating,” Hewitt said, “I always encourage people to come out and go for it.”