Behind the scenes of theatre arts

By  Gabriela Ciurcu, Staff Writer

This semester, under the directing of Tricia Hulet, theatre arts is putting together the musical “Daddy Long Legs.” Opening Night is scheduled for March 25. 

According to the theatre arts page on TMU’s website, the play, which is based on a novel from 1912 by Jean Webster, is, “a heartwarming Cinderella story about a witty and winsome young woman and her mysterious benefactor.” 

Hulet has been the director of theatre arts for 15 years. Her passion for theatre started at a young age when she got to play the role of Rosemarie in Heidi. She has a range of responsibilities apart from directing the plays, extending from teaching the students how to execute the performance to training them in seeing the production as a whole. 

“Directing theater combines my love of the performing arts with the student ministry,” Hulet said. She loves watching the students grow, expand, and live what they know to be true. 

“I want the audience to be able as much as possible to feel like they are looking into a window of real life, and this takes hard work,” she said. 

There are 34 students involved in the aspects of both production and acting. Without notice, they are bringing the story to life in a hiding and unique way. 

“The world that the students create around the actors is quite fantastic. Each one of them brings so much creativity. I am impressed by the level of detail they think through,” Hulet said.

Preparing and building the set for the musical begins in the first couple of weeks of rehearsal. Throughout the rehearsal period, the stage crew is planning the set model.

 “We start with almost nothing, and throughout this process, we are creating something beautiful,” said Lily Underwood, stage manager. 

From the smallest detail on the scene to the most evident one, the properties crew intervenes to unify the set to be as close as it can to reality. Lydia Borisuk, manager of the properties crew, is passionate about putting her thoughts into a physical form. 

“I love to look at the set and imagine what it is going to look like in the end,” she said. 

Learning the era in which the musical takes place is an essential part of costume preparation. Doing the research for this specific time period and seeing how fashion is constantly changing with every season is something that the costume crew loves. 

“The hard thing is to find the perfect pieces of clothing because we are limited,” said Catalina Sonnenburg, the costume designer. Even so, this doesn’t stop them from trying everything they can to make the characters fit the time period. 

Working closely with the costume crew, the hairstyle and makeup crew design the look of the characters to go along with their clothing. Abigail Hokanson, the hairstyle and makeup designer, describes the experience of working behind the scenes as “humbling.” 

In “Daddy Long Legs,” the role of Jerusha Abbot will be played by TMU senior Arianna Sonnenburg. Sonnenburg, a veteran of the theatre arts program and no stranger to taking on large roles, says that one key to developing a strong performance is studying the characters she plays. 

“You can get to know the character deeper as you play it,” she said. 

She also recognizes the synergy of every aspect of making a play come to life – the set, the costumes, the makeup, the hairstyle. 

“Those are beautiful things that are going to help the story come alive. I like the brainstorming of what we could do,” she said. 

Playing the role of Jervis Pendleton, Joshua Bretz explains how the performance and everything they are doing is for the glory of God. 

“The way we act behind the stage to memorizing the lines is and should be God focused,” he said. 

“We practice, and practice, and practice and perfect everything,” said C.J. Beck, a member of the production crew. Being in charge of the recording and editing of the backstage videos, Beck, explains that, “there is a lot to learn, and everyone cares about the quality of the performance.” 

“Daddy Long Legs” will be performed on March 25 through April 2 and streamed online from April 8 to 16. Tickets can be purchased at the theatre arts page via TMU’s website until the opening night. 

Gabriela Ciurcu can be reached at ciurcumg@masters.edu

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