Sets and lights: a look backstage

Marina Kazarian and Adrian Arnaboldi

Behind the scenes of the school’s production of Sophisticated Ladies, members of the crew and set design team have been setting the stage for an exhilarating show with their work on set and lighting design. Their designs will be front and center during the performances of Sophisticated Ladies.

Typically, school shows only have one lighting designer; however, since this was a dance show, the design was a community effort, Sarah Sun (10) said. It included seven lighting designers, each of them working on three or four numbers.

Sun designed light queues, better known as transitions, for four numbers from the show. Light designers sat in on tech rehearsal and have since been working on queues for their numbers, she said.

The queues for Sophisticated Ladies are different than traditional theater queues. This show is very music intensive, so queues were built off the music, Technical Director Naomi Kenyatta (11) said.

In addition to lighting, students worked on physical set pieces. “The directors for Sophisticated Ladies wanted the band to be on stage playing the music with the actors dancing,” he said. “That was the first criteria in terms of designing the set,” Lorenzo Hess (12) said.

        Along with the student crew, the directors of the show chose the designs that the students drew for different set pieces.

“Mr. Sherry, my teacher, gave each of us a layout plan or blueprint of the Gross Theater stage and told us to design a staircase that would leave room for an orchestra,” Milen Nelivigi (10) said. “He left the rest of the artistic choices up to us.”

The choices made for the set are well informed and researched. Nelivigi designed the grand staircase that is the centerpiece of the set. “I based my design off of horns on a viking helmet,” Nelivigi said.

Hess designed the portal, a large opening on the staircase through which actors enter the stage. When Hess designed the portal, he delved into the musical “She Loves Me” for his creation of an arc with piano keys. The production had a scene where the actor pretended that he was dancing in Radio City Music Hall, Hess said.

“I looked up pictures of the Radio City Music Hall and some of it was inspired from that,” he said. “I think the piano arc came out really well and I also think people did a great job designing and putting together the sign, which I helped with.”

For many members of the crew, this was their first time stage designing. “I was a stage manager but I’ve never designed for a real show,” Sun said. Kenyatta has been doing crew since freshman year, but this was her first time designing a set that actually got built, she said.

Sun looks forward to her light queues helping establish the appropriate atmosphere for the show, she said. “I think lighting is very important in a production and I want people to enjoy the show as best as it can be.”

The crew looks forward to seeing their hard work pay off throughout the production.