'Making Magic, Defying Gravity'

Tuesday , March 18, 2014 - 2:50 PM

Sara Bowker

A night filled with magic and wonder was recently held at The Off Broadway Theatre in Salt Lake City. This was a one-shot show featuring a cast of high school performers and stage technicians and “Wicked” actors Michael Mahany, understudy of Fiyero, and Carla Stickler, standby for the role of Elphaba.

“Making Magic, Defying Gravity” included a vast array of musical numbers. It had, of course, some music from “Wicked,” including a song cut from the popular musical. There was also a song from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,”since this Aug. 6 show was a collaboration between the national tour of “Wicked” — which ended its Utah run Sunday — and the Disney Company.

However, the majority of the show featuring the eight high school students consisted of music written by P. Jason Yarcho, musical director and conductor for the “Wicked” tour, specifically for this show.

The talents of the performers were amazing. One of the favorite numbers I saw was when Mahany performed “Out There” from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” His talent was breathtaking, and was wonderful to go along with his good looks.

I had such an inside look at this production because I was one of the nine high school students selected as stage technicians for this show. Backstage, in the booth, behind a spotlight, we all ran the show with a flawless perfection that came from both planning and making corrections.

The chance to do this came from my drama teacher. She sent me a message about the opportunity and specially invited me to apply. After submitting my resume, just like with any other job, the next thing was the waiting. Ecstatic when the news came that I would be a sound assistant, I found that only one other person from my school would be working there with me. So I knew this would be a great chance to make new friends.

All the work for this show was done earlier in the day, before the performance. Although the cast was set to arrive at the theater at 3 p.m., all crew members were there from 8 a.m. on. The morning included running up to borrow equipment from the University of Utah theater, emergency coffee runs and just plain laughter.

My tasks included moving supplies, cleaning, fixing equipment and helping someone solder some wires together. The biggest thing to me was the chance to design the lights that went onto the ceiling of the theater. It was so cool to be trusted and complimented for my work there that, because of the color patterns I used, was known as “the sunset.”

Working in this theater was just a thrilling experience. It was much smaller than my high school, maybe just one-fourth of the size. Before this, I had never even heard of the place. It is always fun to work in new environments though, because every theater has its story. Also, what’s great are the new connections that I have made which can help me get ahead in this very competitive world.

A highlight that I appreciated was personally meeting Matt Conover, vice president of creative entertainment at Disney. He graduated college with a bachelor of fine arts in theater design and technology, and with some good breaks, started on the path to greatness.

One of the best things Conover told me, which I believe should apply to everyone, was, “If you are not enjoying yourself, then don’t do it.” He speaks from experience, having spent six months in college trying for a business major and then realizing he did not want to do that.

Really, words cannot describe that day of the show. To meet who I did, and to do what I did, is not very common and I am thankful for it. If I knew that the experience would be like it was, I would sign up a million times over. It also made me realize that in order to make dreams come true, or as this show stated, to “make magic,” you must really work and earn your place in the world.

All the proceeds of “Making Magic, Defying Gravity” went to help fund scholarships for students of the Education Theatre Association; to find out more visit www.schooltheatre.org.

Sara Bowker will be a senior at Northridge High School. She enjoys dance, theater and stage crew. Email her at happy_girl216@msn.com.

VIDEO: A behind-the-scenes look at "Wicked"

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