Work Behind the Scenes in Musicals


Sebastian Munoz

I had a chance to interview the musical director/choir teacher in Wheeling High School to talk about the upcoming musical, Working. Originally a book written by a man named Studs Terkel who was a Chicago radio host and writer. He wanted to interview many people in Chicago and asked them about their perspectives on their jobs. The book makes the audience realize that there is more than just working. Instead who you are working the job for. The book was later written into a musical in 1978. After doing the state-selected musical, Crybaby, last year. He believes it would be best for the theater program to go back to the basics, add heart and connect to people. Even though the musical is not well known, he believes that it is best to do this show to bring this message that people need to know about. He wants to connect to our community and bring honor to the workforce.
When they announced the musical there was a good amount of backlash towards this musical. People complained about the musical being chosen for the reason that it’s not a well-known musical. “Sometimes the teenagers get into this habit of precasting things and guessing before we announce what it’s going to be, and when they don’t get their way I think it’s disappointing to them,” Collela said. Even if the musical is not well known it doesn’t mean that it isn’t good and people should realize that even more. What he finds to be frustrating when deciding on a musical is when kids constantly ask to do big shows. When it comes down to big shows then it’s expected to put in good time and work, but people would have conflicts such as being in a sport or having work. Then he doesn’t want to risk for the conflicts to have any effects on the production of a big show. People are used to thinking that musicals have some sort of style, comedic, and high energy, but not all musicals are like that. This year he wants to try out a musical that has substance to it. Something that has some intimacy and heart to it and this musical can deliver that well. Last year, 24 seniors were in the program, and 14 of them were in the program for all 4 years. Who in which all of them showed leadership and talent to the program. He would be asked by everyone, teachers, parents, and current underclassmen. “Oh my God, what are we going to do next year?”. This year there are 33 new students welcomed to the program and from the first week to now he has seen them grow and keep up. “That’s the game, people will graduate then people will set up and what looking at now is, who are my new seniors who are stepping up for the program,” Collea stated. He will want to give opportunities and brings what’s best for the program like the musical, and if people don’t want to take it or don’t like it then either deal with it or don’t. He sees people stepping up every day now either one way or another. “Gaby Plascencia was huge for me last year, she was my aid, she was a great leader in the soprano section, she was a great leader of the program and I already have somebody like Denise Flores to fill that role and she’s doing an amazing job. I see people in the tenor section stepping up trying to fill Hunter Little and Joey Costantini’s roles. Are we there right now where we were last spring? No. Will we get there? I feel we will get there and this is a different group so it’s a different year. That’s what some people forget when you have a program is that it can never be the same every year cuz you have different kids.”. In every production, there is so much work to be put behind the scenes, especially in the beginning. For our theater production, a vision of the show is created and shared with other people behind the scenes and adds more to that vision. Then when it’s shared with the cast that’s when it gets taken to a whole new level and starts to add things that they initially didn’t think about. When he sees the product for every single show that he did here (except for one) it always exceeds what his vision was in the first place and that’s what gets him emotional. When people got the idea of it, that’s when it clicked and it will be the same thing for this year. His favorite part in the production is when the show starts to come together. He wants this show to impact people and give the students a chance to understand what power they have on stage. This interview has made me realize more about the productions in theater (and it’s 2:41 am so bear with me here). Everyone has a vision and ideas that they want to share in theater. If they have expectations for something or have hope about something
and it doesn’t work out in the end. I don’t think that’s where it has to end. We all have ideas and they can get us to collect, grow, intertwine, prosper ideas and be able to form another world. No matter what problems the world throws at us, our ideas keep coming and adding to our worlds that we create together. That’s what makes theater amazing and I can’t wait to see what this musical will bring us this year.