Getting the show on the road

Maria Culwell, Staff Writer


Costume design is essentially the frosting of the multilayer cake known as a musical. From swim trunks to wedding gowns, Liberty’s Mamma Mia musical requires a group effort to create the mesmerizing costumes shown on stage. 

Junior Elle Spahn is the main lead for the Liberty costume department and has been creating costumes since her sophomore year. 

“Over Covid, I took a big interest in fashion,” Spahn said. “A senior came up to me freshman year, trying to find new people to bring into the program, so I decided to try it.” 

Senior Allie Van Parys, another member of the costume program at Liberty, found their love for costume design through the Theater Production class. 

“I wanted to participate in something where I could see what I put on stage,” VanParys said. “At first I didn’t know how to sew, but I learned the skill in my Theater Production class, as well as a lot of other things.”  

The costume design has helped bring several of Liberty’s past plays to life such as last spring’s Cinderella and last fall’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream.

If class time isn’t enough, some students use their own time. 

“The longest time it took me to create a costume was over the span of a few all-nighters,” Spahn said. “Other costumes take maybe five hours.” 

For Mamma Mia, costumes are more easily attained. 

“We are only making two costumes for Mamma Mia because we rented all the other costumes- which is amazing,” Spahn said. 

Resourcing the materials for Liberty’s costume program comes in several ways. 

“Some costumes come from our storage, allowing us to make a small alteration for the show,” Spahn said. “Other costumes are rented or created from materials provided by Dr. Butterworth.” 

These alterations allow not only characters, but also visions to come to life. 

“Sometimes I get emotional,” Spahn said. “Being able to say I costumed all that and bring my vision to life makes me happy.” 

Van Parys finds themselves in a similar position. 

“I had steamed the dress for Cinderella last year. When I got to see it, I thought to myself, ‘There’s no wrinkles because of me,’” Van Parys said. 

Whether they are sewing on buttons or creating gowns, Liberty’s costume program never fails to bring life to each production. 

Stage crew: 

Lights, camera, action! Liberty’s stage crew is an essential component to each of Liberty High School’s productions.

Junior Maurice Constantine, an assistant stage manager in charge of Stage Right, has been part of the stage crew since last year. 

“I was in dramaturgy-theory and practice of dramatic composition- for the fall play and the spring musical,” Constantine said. “After that I participated in the deck crew for those performances as well.” 

Stage crew is separated into several subsections including tech and deck crew for stage left and stage right. 

“We have our own deck crews that tell us when to move stuff around and get it on stage or bring stuff off stage as well,” Constantine said. 

Amongst numerous dancing and singing numbers, what is the stage crew doing behind the scenes? 

“Stage crew is vital considering that we are the ones keeping track of props, getting things on and off the stage so scenes can transform as the story progresses,” Constantine said. “Stage left flies things in and out of the production to bring stuff like the trees up.” 

To mimic the feeling that characters are in Greece, the stage crew works to create elaborate sets.

“Work parties are a big part of it, and these usually occur on Saturdays for five to six hours,” Constantine said.  

This year,  the stage crew’s hard work has allowed them to bring elements from the famous Broadway musical to life.

“We have a taverna that we have been building this entire time,” Constantine said.  “It is 20 feet and can barely move so we have a lot of things happening downstage.” 

Thanks to the stage crew, Liberty’s production of Mamma Mia creates a surreal experience, allowing characters to melt into each scene.  

Pit crew: 

Since January, the pit crew, directed by choir teacher Erick Price, has been working hard to bring the classics of ABBA to life. 

“I selected the nine students I needed based on the instrumentation of the show,” Price said. “They don’t receive class credit, so it is strictly extracurricular.” 

Price has only been teaching at Liberty for the past two years but he does bring a lot of experience from previous school productions. 

“I have been directing musicals in some fashion for 12 years now,” Price said. “Last year I was the vocal music director, and I taught all the vocal music to the students.” 

The selection of people for the pit crew is determined by how each show is composed. 

“Last year we did Cinderella, and it had a pit of probably 25 students from the band and orchestra department,” Price said. “There are usually a lot of orchestral instruments, but since this show is based on the music of ABBA, the show is scored for a rock band.” 

Senior Sydney Kincaid has also been a part of the pit crew since freshman year when the show Wonderful Town was canceled due to Covid. 

“Last year I was in the pit orchestra for Cinderella, and then this year I directed that pit orchestra for A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Kincaid said. 

Unlike previous years, this pit crew requires a special component: computer technology. 

“For all the keyboards, sounds will be routed through computers. We will use synthesized sized sound, so it sounds like the original avid tune you hear across those wonky 80’s disco music,” Price said. 

Using computer programming, the pit crew is able to use several sounds with the touch of a key. 

“Each time they go to a new song, or in the middle of songs, they’ll switch to a new patch, and it will sound like a different instrument,” Kincaid said. “Sometimes you play the keyboard, and it will sound like a piano, chimes, oboe, or vocal parts.” 

Even with new technology in the mix, the pit crew experienced a quick learning curve. With many weeks of practice, the hardest part is the setting up.

“Every time we have rehearsal, we have to pull out computers and hook up the keyboards to a foot pedal which controls the volume, which then hooks up to the mixer,” Price said.

With extra hard work, the pit crew has been able to capture the essence of ABBA’s discography. 

“I think it’s catchy, and I have everything stuck in my head for days after every single rehearsal,” Kincaid said. 

The pit crew has given the opportunity to Liberty’s local musicians to showcase their talents. 

“It has been a very stress-free environment,” Price said. “The students playing are all great musicians and good people to work with.”