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A Look at the Work Offstage at 'Bat Boy: The Musical'

Juniors and seniors have been preparing for show since January.

The countdown is on for the dedicated technical crew of Bat Boy: The Musical at the Westfield High School; there are only two weeks left before the show opens at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 14.

Seniors Emma Tabachnick and Alison Simon began their roles as Assistant Technical Directors on the production in January, as soon as the set for the fall drama came down. Emma and Alison work with Set Designer Roy Chambers, translating his vision from sketches into massive double-sided, multi-layered, moveable set pieces. The technical directors have learned to be fast-thinking problem-solvers, who can make changes in a minute. This set is a “complicated build” says Tabachnick, as each piece needs to be sturdy enough to support the actors on its multiple levels. “The energy that goes into a production is amazing,” says Simon. “You’re really a part of something bigger than yourself.”

Senior Tech leaders Rob Cassie, Benji Schwartz and Alex Ying, work with director Daniel Devlin to coordinate lights with scene changes, as well as sound of the pit orchestra. Each of the three tech leaders has a dog-eared script, with multiple notes indicating the many lighting and sound changes that must be timed exactly with dialogue and set movement. There’s a lot of teaching involved, as underclassmen learn to operate spotlights, and the main boards. Cassie, who will be studying Theater Arts and Design Tech at Northwestern University this fall, says that their work on the show begins with the announcement of the cast, and picks up momentum as the crew members are given job assignments. “Anything with theater is fun,” he says.  "Lights are a subliminal thing," says Schwartz, who works the light board.  "If you go in with an alert eye, you can see what an enormous impact good lighting design has on a show." 

Ying’s experience as a musician gives him insight into programming the show’s sound. “Different voices can be layered, so that multiple sounds can be heard at the same time, and not overpower each other,” explains the future engineering student.

Juniors Geneva Gleason, (Costume Design), Alexa Derman (Make-up) and senior Maria Hersey (Prop Mistress) work hand-in-hand to establish the look of the show.  A first reading of the script inspires Gleason’s initial set of sketches.  These are reviewed with Mr. Devlin to visualize how color and texture will establish the mood of the production. Weekly costume parades are held before rehearsals; a spread sheet helps keep track of the large cast and their many split-second clothing changes.  Derman has already won a Paper Mill Rising Star award for her work on last year’s show, Pippin. Her research for Bat Boy included vampires and the grunge movement. Lessons she’s learned from her WHS theatre experience include “never to say oops to someone while you’re working on their face”, and how important it is for the tech crew to feel involved with the show. Her make-up crew members participate in the vocal warm-ups alongside the actors.  As the prop mistress for Bat Boy, Hershey is in charge of finding, creating and keeping track of all of the props. She and her crew are responsible for making sure the props get into the actors’ hands when they are needed. “Props crew is always a fun challenge; I love being able to funnel artistic energy into making contributions to the shows," says Hershey.

Senior Asher Horowitz designed the poster for the show. He began his work by creating a computer “sketch” of two concepts to present to Mr. Devlin. One became the graphic identity of the show, which appears on publicity items like posters and bookmarks; it was also adapted for the show’s program cover, cast and crew t-shirts, and a billboard (in front of the theatre).  In addition, Horowitz will be designing the lobby decoration, which will set the stage for the actual production.

Bat Boy: The Musical will be presented on Thursday, March 14; Friday, March 15; and Saturday, March 16.  All performances are at 7:30 p.m. on the main stage of Westfield High School, located at 550 Dorian Road.  Tickets may be purchased at the door on the evening of the performance or reserved in advanced at $12 each by emailing WHStickets@Westfieldnjk12.org or calling 908-884-1866. 

Please note that some of the show's content and imagery, although comedic and intended as a nod to several classic “B” horror films, may be inappropriate for younger children.

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