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Musicals & Plays: Similar Shows, Different Perspectives

Saint Ursula Academy has been putting on musicals and plays for many years now, and it is safe to say that the process has changed over the course of the years with different directors, performance spaces, and dramas chosen. But what are the differences in the process between putting on the fall play and the spring musical?

One of the big differences is that musicals can be more complicated than plays, as Ms. Hinkel, SUA’s Theatre Director, reveals: “It takes more hands and more villagers to pull off the musical.” For example, in the spring musical First Impressions, opening on April 11, there are two more groups of staff for choreography and music direction than in the fall play, Just a High School Play.

There is also the factor of having more time for people to process not only their lines but also the songs that they are singing and dances they are performing. “Generally it takes people longer to learn their lines in a musical, so you need more time to plan,” Ms. Hinkel said.

Not only do musicals require more work for the actors and actresses, but also the people working behind-the-scenes, working on making more scenes, props, and costumes. “For every actor, there will be 2 people from behind-the-scenes, to make sure there are enough to pull off a play such as Just a High School Play doesn’t require that many scenes built, or actors. Ms. Hinkel continues: “I will not do more than two-to-one ratio, so if there’s one cast member, there are probably two crew members to balance that out. We would never do a show where there would be three people for every person on stage.”

There are also many other challenges when doing any plays or musicals, including having to find enough boys to act or sing. In the words of Ms. Hinkel, she says, “It usually depends on the amount of boys we need. Obviously it would be easier if we need fewer, however, we have learned we can’t count on any boy [returning]. I could never consider, ‘Oh, since somebody did one of our shows, that means that they’ll do the rest of them forever, and ever, and ever.’ Many of them also work with their school, which we fully support.”

During the many years, SUA not only has changed the ways they do plays and musicals but also where we perform. When both Ms. Hinkel and Ms. Jennings were thinking about their wish lists for the new theater space built in 2017, they had to use “a lot of creativity and ingenuity” [Ms. Hinkel] to make sure everything they needed would fit. This includes a fly system, so they can fly scenery up and down into the air, and curtains to use when opening or closing for scene changes.

Even with all these new changes to the theater, and how Ms. Hinkel and Ms. Jennings make the plays and musicals happen, there will always be one thing in common: the hard work and dedication that everyone working in SUA Theatre puts toward either show, which brings each one back to life, grabbing the audience’s attention.

In First Impressions, the many actresses, actors, crew members, and directors are all working hard to bring the musical together, leading up to opening weekend--April 11-14. Get your tickets fast!

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