What’s happening behind the curtains of “Footloose”


Eliza Bengala, Marissa VanDaelen, Natalie Dunn, Staff Writer

1450211_722383847791462_1505785960_nThe Howell High School drama department has changed it’s schedule this school year, and bumped the annual spring musical into the fall slot, pushing the yearly play until March. Ms. Amanda Malo, the drama teacher at HHS and director, is bringing a contemporary musical to the Howell stage for the first time in years with Footloose, based on the classic Kevin Bacon movie. This production is made possible by not only the actors on the stage, but also the musicians in the pit, the crew members behind the curtain, and the tech students in the sound booth.

Behind the scenes of “Footloose”

By Editor in Chief: Natalie Dunn

The upcoming musical, Footloose, may seem to belong entirely to the cast members who put on the show. While they work diligently and daily, they wouldn’t have a show to put on without the members of the crew who operate the stage from behind the curtains.

This year’s musical crew is lead by Student Assistant Director Cassie Bondie, and Stage Managers Dawn Peterson, Steven New, and Kayla McClain. These four students have an independent study with Ms. Malo, and spend an hour of their school day everyday working on various tasks for the show.

The stage crew’s job is to move props around on and off the stage so that when the cast goes on, they have the right furniture to sit on and the right book or glass of water to pick up.

“I love working backstage, because I get to see the actors grow and I get to work with some amazing people. You don’t turn down the chance to work with Ms. Malo,” says senior Cassie Bondie. She joined drama and pursued the position of Assistant Director because she is interested in directing as a career. This is the second show she’s directed in some way, and her fourteenth show overall.

“I get to see a lot of stuff the audience doesn’t. Also, the audience only gets to see it once or twice, but I saw it a billion times already. Because it’s an amazing show, I never get tired of watching the dances or hearing the singers,” says Kayla McClain, stage manager.

“Footloose!” pit brings about new style, challenges

By Staff Writer: Eliza Bengala

With the premiere of Howell High School’s production Footloose this Friday, lots of people are excited about seeing their fellow students dancing, singing, and acting out the beloved story of a teenage boy who moves to a small town where rock n’ roll is outlawed.

But there’s another group of students who put just as much time and effort into the productions as the actors, and who are just as important. That would be the students in the pit.

In most productions put on by Howell High School’s performing arts department, the pit is made up of students involved in band, even some who play stringed instruments. The pit is the soundtrack of every production, providing the music to which the actors sing and dance, background music during dramatic scenes, and during the opening and closing of the production. No recorded music is used.

The Footloose pit is not a traditional pit. Unlike most productions, the score is comprised of rock n’ roll music, which is not a sound that you can get out of traditional band instruments and violins.

“It’s not your typical musical pit,” says junior Rosie Hersh. “It’s a rock pit. Most pits are classical, but it’s a rock pit, so it’s different.”

Hersh will be playing the tenor saxophone and the bari saxophone in the production.

“I had to buy a new mouthpiece [for my saxophones]. My other mouthpiece was a concert mouthpiece. This one is a jazz mouth piece.” Not only did Hersh indirectly put her own money into the production, but she also puts her time directly into the production. “It’s a lot of work. I go to school for 11 hours a day because of it.”

Hersh isn’t the only wind player affected by the new musical style that the pit has to work with this fall.

“I don’t play my flute until song 16, so I help the percussion until then. I pretty much only play when the preacher is talking,” says junior Charley Garlock. “We also have to wear earplugs because we sit in front of the amps.”

Despite the loud amplification, this fall’s pit is smaller than normal.

“We have two drum sets, three guitars, one bass, three pianists, and three wind players [flute, clarinet, and saxophone],” says junior Connor Norton, who will be playing general percussion instruments in the production.

The electric and bass guitars that produce the rock n’ roll sound are also unique to the pit this fall.

“This is actually my first production with the pit and it’s a ton of fun,” says sophomore Hans Hansen, who is playing first guitar in the pit. “The music is very unique because it is a lot different from what one would normally expect from a pit. As first guitar I have the rare opportunity to improvise and play solos a lot which is my favorite part. This whole experience was definitely a great one and though it took a lot of practice, it’s a lot of fun”

Even with the challenges and changes brought on by the size and music style of the pit, there is no doubt that the pit will still produce amazing music.

“We’re having a lot of fun,” says Mr. Smigell, HHS’s band director and the director of the pit. “Things are coming together really well.”

Tech members prepare for musical “Footloose”

By Staff Writer: Marissa VanDaelen

Howell High School drama students are getting ready for the upcoming play and musical, Footloose. Among those preparing for the play are the tech members who work behind the scenes. Seniors Logan Tesmer, Katy Michaels, and Dylan Williams are the three students who are on the job.

Run by auditorium manager, Bruce Grotenhuis, the tech members are always sure what to do because he keeps everything in order.

“I do lights for the plays and I also help Bruce, Logan, and Dylan with odd jobs around the auditorium,” Michaels says.

The tech members are basically in charge of all the little things that can make a big difference in how the play will turn out. They change light bulbs, adjust sound, and make sure timing works together with the play.

Williams is in charge of running the sound. He adjusts the microphones for the actors and changes the volume depending on whether they’re singing or talking during the musical.

Likewise, Tesmer is in charge of running the flys. He pulls the ropes that bring down the backdrops for different scenes in the play.

Additionally, the students get paid by the school for working in the back.

“We don’t get paid very much but I think it’s pretty cool that we get paid for helping out at school and also getting to be a part of the play. We get paid depending on how much we work. So the more we work, the more we make, and our paycheck comes every two weeks,” Michaels says.

The tech members are all excited about the play and hope that it all goes well.

“I sometimes get nervous during a play that I might mess up on the lights but I haven’t made any major mistakes so far, so I’m just excited! I love getting to work with some pretty great friends and we are always learning new things. We have a lot of fun working together,” Michaels says.