One objective seniors Mara Wild and Melanie Rae want to carry through before they graduate from the Institute of Notre Dame, Baltimore, is to upgrade the 11-year-old black onstage traveling curtains in the school auditorium. They have sewn holes in the curtains so many times, they were told to stop because repairs were obvious.
The two handpicked stage managers, involved in the drama program since freshmen, are hoping new curtains will be purchased and hung by the spring musical of “Cinderella.” With a donation from the Class of 1957 toward the purchase of curtains, the girls’ goal will become a reality.
“Necessity creates a lot of creativity around here,” said Melanie, describing how they add more light to the stage with portable lights, and wrestle with the 160-year-old school’s aging sound and light system. “We’ve learned a lot about electricity.”
On independent studies, which will earn the girls one credit apiece, Melanie and Mara are teaching assistants under the direction of Carolyn Buck, theater arts department chair and drama director, and Elizabeth Honaker, who teaches stagecraft and English and is the moderator of IND’s Stage Guild.
In their sophomore year, the girls didn’t know how to sew, yet since taking stagecraft, they have made most of the costumes for the school’s theater productions in the fifth floor sewing room. They also learned sound, lighting, painting sceneries, makeup, designing sets and props, and, most importantly – a love for the theater.
“It is a very important IND tradition in our shows,” said Mrs. Buck, who has a student stage manager each year, some who have moved on to become theater teachers. “This is the first year we have been blessed with two equally motivated and talented stage managers.”
The school recently finished a children’s theater performance of “Christmas Eve on Sesame Street” Dec. 4; it will be on stage again Dec. 21. Mara and Melanie stage manage all shows, attending and assisting with rehearsals and performances.
“Seeing the two girls in action as they teach younger students the complexities of running the sound system, sewing, designing makeup, etc. is a really inspiring sight,” said Mrs. Buck. “As the director of our shows, I would be lost without them.”
The girls agreed a stage production is successful when there are no technical difficulties, when everything comes together, “when we have fun and bond,” said Melanie, and “when no buttons pop!”
The cast and crew put in many hours to produce a show. “It’s almost like a job,” said Mara. “It’s a lot of hard work,” yet she loves the relationships it builds.
The teaching assistants will be sad to graduate, they admitted, and want to become involved in college theater. Melanie made sure the three colleges of her choice have a theatre department although she might major in occupational therapy; Mara can’t decide between stage management and pharmacy.
“The deciding factor is seeing how I do in Chemistry 101,” laughed the long brown-haired student.
For now, the double act has one more show to pull off. Cinderella awaits her glass slipper.