The Unsung Heroes of the Drama Department

If you are planning on attending the musical, remember the hard labor that went into the props, set designs, and the music. It isn’t just the actors who put in a lot of time. 


Timur Markowitz

Stage Crew having a good time during rehearsal

   Eastern Regional High School has two different stage productions each year. Students work long hours, preparing a grand play or musical performance. At the end of each show, the actors go on stage and take a bow to a long applause. 

   But the students in Stage Crew, the students in Sound and Lighting, the students in Hair and Makeup, and the students in the Orchestra work difficult hours for no bow, and little recognition. 

Stage Crew

   There’s a common conception that the people in Stage Crew don’t want the bow; if they did, they wouldn’t be in stage crew. 

   Stage Crew works from 2 PM to 8 PM, building large sets and preparing one of the most important parts of the production. Many members join at first to gain experience and learn a particular craft.

   Alyssa Suarez ‘24, Production Manager, explained what made the club so appealing. “It’s like when you finish a math problem, that’s the feeling I get. I finish something, and I’m proud of it.”  

   But, the most appealing part of stage crew is the sense of community. Suarez said, “We all work really hard. We work great together, everyone. It’s because of the morale.”

   Alexis Margolis ‘24, Assistant Manager, explained, “I made a lot of friends. We started off when nobody knew each other because of COVID, but people who did know each other made it really easy. We’re like a family, to an extent.” 

   Stage Crew has one of the closest communities of any club, which is one of the aspects of the club that people most enjoy. However, many wish for a little more independence. 

   Aaron Carty ‘23, Master Carpenter of Stage Crew, explained that, “Right now, we don’t have much creative freedom on the building and designing aspect. A lot of what we build is very functional, and we have to redo it in order to fit a specific vision.”

   Many people are under the misconception that people in Stage Crew are in the club because they do not want the attention; they do not want to be on stage. Suarez explained, “That was the biggest dispute of Legally Blonde last year. Sure, we do want to be backstage, but we would only be asking for three seconds. And it’s part of the morale. We’re going to be seen, our parents are going to see us.” 

   Others shared the same sentiment, thinking that there needs to be more awareness for the people in Stage Crew. 

   Margolis explained her opinions on whether Stage Crew should be allowed to bow or not, saying that “In fall of 2021, we didn’t bow. Legally Blonde, we waved as we took the materials off-stage. And people think, ‘Oh the set is pretty,’ but I don’t think they understand how demanding things are. I would want more in the playbill for people to read, and definitely a bow. We don’t do the work for a bow, obviously. That’s not the reason any of us are in stage crew. But more recognition would be appreciated.”

   When asked whether Suarez would be a part of stage crew next year, she said, “I love stage crew. I love the people. But it’s out of my hands.”

   None of this is to detract from the great pleasure members of stage crew get from their craft; Suarez, Margolis, and Carty all spoke of many similar positive features. Between enjoyable work, opportunity to learn, and amazing sense of community, there’s a lot of joy that comes from being in stage crew. Carty explained that Stage Crew gave him some of the best moments of his high school career.


Orchestra Pit

Orchestra Pit is another underappreciated part of the drama department. Like stage crew, pit members work extensive hours in and out of school, yet receive little credit for their efforts. Thomas Alexander ‘23, B flat trumpet, said that “Rehearsals can be four, five, even six hours long, and when I’m not there, I’m practicing the music as much as possible.” 

The pit crew’s work is crucial to the success and audience enjoyment of the musical. Despite how vital the pit is to the musical and how much time they put into the production, they receive little appreciation for their work. “Most of these emotions wouldn’t be possible without underscores. The most we get is a single gesture,” Alexander said. “If most people sat down and tried to learn the music we learn, they would quit pretty quickly. The most recognition we get is a point downwards, or someone saying ‘you’re doing great.’”

This sentiment was shared among other members of the pit. Gabriella Janka ‘24, bassist, expressed, “Having just one person point down at us is demeaning. And it’s for a brief short moment, and nobody can see what they’re doing. People don’t really know the pit’s there. You see the actors live, and people are amazed by that. But the pit isn’t noticed” 

The time that pit members sacrifice for the betterment of the musical has a direct impact on them as students. Many in the pit conveyed that they had less time to complete their assignments or study for tests due to the amount of time they have to spend in rehearsal. Michelle Choi ‘25, violinist, remarked that she had, “less time to work on homework, makes me push my assignments back more”. 

This view was shared by percussionist Josh Kelly ‘25, who stated, “ Time management becomes much more important and you have to really pay attention in school and cannot slack off with work”. 

Despite the extreme time commitment, and the possible effects this has on the other aspects of their lives,  all the pit members expressed a deep love for the club and an enjoyment for playing their instruments. 

Similar to Stage Crew, Pit members also share a sense of community. Janka stated, “We’re in such close quarters for such a long time, and that really makes a great connection between everyone”. 

When asked if they would return to the club next year Kelly told us, “I do plan on doing this next year, I have a great time with it overall.” This feeling was unanimous among those we talked to. Pit gives its members a place to be with their friends, play music they enjoy, and better themselves as musicians. 


Hair and Makeup

    Leah Donkochik ’24 and Mazie O’Keefe ‘24 are in charge of hair and makeup for drama productions. Mazie explained that, including what she does at home, she works about 7 hours a day. Long hours and strenuous work under difficult pressure make this one of the more difficult jobs, and just like the other members of Stage Crew, they also receive no bow. 

   Leah explained that “We don’t get a bow, because we’re trying to be like Broadway.” 

   This other perspective on whether students should receive a bow does not change how people feel about the lack of acknowledgement. Just like people in pit and in stage crew, O’Keefe believes that a bow would improve morale. 

   “But we would also want more recognition, more trust and freedom,” Leah said. 

   O’Keefe explained, “Most of us have actually done this for pay. We have a lot of skill, and we would want more creative freedom.” 

   Just like Stage Crew, Pit, and other parts of drama productions, one of the best things about the club is the people, and the community effort towards building something great. 

   Mazie explained that, “I like making magic, seeing people react to wearing it on stage.”

   “You form a bond or a friendship, throughout working with the people around you,” Donkochik said, “I don’t just stay because of the opportunity, I stay because of the people, we enjoy it. I’m with my friends, celebrating the show.”


Sound and Light

   Clarissa Weaver ‘23, the Co-President of Sound and Light, works 5-6 hours a day in order to make sure that everything is functioning seamlessly. 

   Weaver explained that there was an appeal to being a part of Sound and Light as opposed to an actor, stating, “I never really was the person to want to be in the spotlight, so being able to see the show’s progression and be a part of that progression outside of the stage is something I really enjoy. It’s my favorite thing to do.”

   The lack of appreciation for Sound and Light and Stage Crew makes it more difficult to find people to take up these positions as well. 

   “Stage Crew works incredibly hard. They work so hard to make such a great set, and it rarely gets appreciated,” Weaver said, “And it’s difficult to find people who want to do tech, most people want to be actors. It’s difficult to find people who have an interest and then maintain that interest.”

   Long hours and a lack of people make Sound and Light challenging, and recognition is difficult. The better they do their job, the more seamless the show is, and the less the audience notices these aspects of the production. 

   The fact that they run the board makes it even more tedious to find appreciation: they have to run the board while people are bowing, and it is inconvenient to go on stage as a result. 

   Weaver said, “Sound and Light doesn’t really need a bow, apart from the people who can actually go up and do it, people like the mic techs, but the people running the board definitely can’t. A bow is definitely a start, and we can work from there.” 

   The work that is done by Stage Crew, the Orchestra Pit, Hair and Makeup, and Sound and Light brings every Eastern show together. Without these four clubs, the actors would never be able to put on a performance — not a good one at least. 

   Despite how indispensable their efforts are, these students get little appreciation. Pit Crew only gets a point downward and Stage Crew only gets a wave to the audience. These clubs deserve a bow, or at least more attention in the Playbill for their work.

 This is not just an issue in Eastern Regional High School; Avery Hanson, a Production Manager at Robbinsville High School, explained that, “Stage crew brings an entirely new layer of the story to life. They’re just as important as the people singing and dancing on stage. Stage crew will never get a bow despite the fact that they put their hearts and souls into a production.”

   None of this is to take away from the detract from the many pleasures that members of these clubs gain from their role in them. Every single person in every single interview spoke of the great community that they have been able to experience, as well as their enjoyment in their craft.

   So, if you are planning on attending the musical, remember the hard labor that went into the props, set designs, and the music. It isn’t just the actors who put in a lot of time.