Behind the Scenes of “Guys and Dolls”

Cast members and seniors Jake Gies and Sarah Wright, among others, wave to the crowd after a successful show. Photo courtesy of Gib Stanfield.

The hard work of Chamblee Charter High School’s OnStage program culminated in a wonderful production that took place on January 6, 7, and 8.

Guys and Dolls was the musical and all of the guys and dolls involved were crucial parts of the more than 120 person company.

Crew consists of the people who work on lights and sound. Junior Natalia Carlson, who has been working on lights for the annual musical since she was a freshman, is the lights designer and backstage stage manager this year.

“As stage manager, I’m in charge of making sure that Ms. Lirette has what she needs and that everybody knows where they have to be and I do attendance,” said Carlson. “For lighting design, I make the plots for what lights will be on when and where.”

Carlson’s work doesn’t stop when rehearsal is over.

“I work about 30-40 hours a week,” said Carlson. “I work at stuff at home too; I do it [lighting] in all of my free time.”

Junior Isabel Bradford’s work picks up where Carlson’s leaves off. Bradford is the head lighting technician.

“She [Natalia Carlson] sets up how she wants [the lights] to look and then I program it into the board and during the show I’ll work the lights,” said Bradford.

Bradford is not able to work on the lights outside of rehearsal.

“All of my work concerns the lighting board and I can’t take it home with me,” said Bradford.

The sets are built during rehearsals by members of the cast and crew.

“Everyone needs to help and that is something that not everybody understands,” said Carlson. “Whenever you aren’t [one isn’t] doing something you’re supposed to be working on sets.”

Bradford has high expectations for the sets this year.

“I’ve helped paint a lot of things,” said Bradford. “It’s actually going really well; it’s gonna be amazing.”

Junior Skylar Flowers is the head sound technician.

“I make sure the people on stage can be heard and that they have proper mics that are working so that the audience doesn’t hear static over the speakers,” said Flowers. “I’m also responsible for microphone changes during the show, so if we have one person needing a mic in one scene and the next person needs the mic later, we have to get the mic to that person, and sometimes they’re not in the right spot so we can’t find them.”

Flowers spent about a week and a half on her own time designing the cue sheet, which describes when she should turn the microphones on and off.

The main challenge facing crew each year is a lack of personnel continuity.

“Having a new crew each year can be kind of stressful because you never know who you’re gonna be working with,” said Flowers.

Another difficulty that the whole musical faces is attendance, which was a bigger problem than usual due to the musical being a first semester production.

“People have other things that they think are more important than the musical,” said Carlson. “There are so many other activities that people had already committed to before knowing that the musical would be in the fall. Personally, I had marching band and the musical, but I still made it to everything I needed to be at, so people should realize that even though they have other stuff going on, the musical is just as important, and it will not work when there are not people showing up consistently.”

The musical was moved to the fall because the director, Linda Lirette, was expecting a child in late January, putting her on maternity leave when the musical would normally be.

“The big initial problem was that Ms. Lirette was having another child,” said William Rohrbach, principal trumpet player for the pit orchestra.“We couldn’t have the musical in March, because that’s when she’s due.”

Her ability to direct the show, however, was hindered over Thanksgiving break due to pregnancy complications placing her on bedrest.

“It’s been a little bit of a struggle getting back into the rhythm of things without her here to direct us and tell us what to do,” said Bradford. “But I think we’ve handled it really well, and I think the show has really gotten back on track.”

On the eighth, however, a mere eight hours before the show was to start, disaster struck in the form of ice and snow, forcing DeKalb County to close schools early and cancel all activities for the weekend, including Guys and Dolls.”

“The roads were impassable,” said Rohrbach. “All three shows had to be moved.”

Despite the many obstacles in their path, the cast, crew, and pit worked relentlessly to pull of a production worthy of the time and resources that were poured into it.

“I think it went really well,” said Carlson. “I’m really proud of everybody and I personally think it was the best show we’ve ever done. There were so many setbacks, so it’s awesome that we pulled everything together so well.”

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