By: C. Rosenthal
Charles Chaplin once said: “Life is a play that does not allow testing. So sing, cry, dance, laugh and live intensely, before the curtain closes and the piece ends with no applause.” Yet, it appears that he has forgotten to mention what happens before the curtains open for the public, during the endless hours of rehearsals, the overflow of emotions and commotions and the relationships made and bonds formed while preparing for what, we all hope, will end in outstanding performances.
From the spectator’s perspective, it is just impossible to imagine all challenges faced by the backstage crew in order to create flawless scenes. Through this collection of different emotions, impeccable choreographies and exciting tunes the viewers get carried away without acknowledging the work done behind the curtains. It is during the quick and imperceptible moments between scenes, that we realise the work put into the stage while actors prepare themselves to perform these vivid scenes. Through transitions, the simple stage takes several shapes, forms and countless different settings, therefore we are left to imagine all the work done in such a short period of time, as the lights dim for what appears to be mere seconds, modifying completely the onlookers’ perceptions and impressions.
At the makeup station, despite the pressure of the musical, the mess controls the room as the backstage pupils feel enthusiastic for the beginning of the play. Running around with products which will soon turn regular students into historically known and loved characters. Soon enough, the cast has been formed: Liesel, Gretl, Brigitta, Elsa, Rolfe, Captain, Maria, Max, Friederich and many others who are key characters of this plot, an unforgettable appearance.
Of course, it has not always been as fun, and the mess had not always been as productive. Quite by the contrary actually. When I first started observing the rehearsals, there appeared to be more distressing screams than music and more toe stepping than choreographies done right, but isn’t that the point of all of this after all? The disorder is in fact the starting point for greatness, and, on contrary to popular belief, most troubling shout is in fact the trigger to amazing performances.
The point is that it all began by falling apart, but it had to fall apart so that it could fall together. As I talked to some of the actors, I realised how they, as a team, had created something special. I could see how gifted students by working together managed to form a family, and how one’s significance in this show could not be diminished by the fact that some were only on stage when the lights were dim, whereas others had been constantly followed by the spotlight. In the end, it is quite clear that they were all there for the same purposes of: singing, dancing, smiling and laughing for the sound of music.