A Backstage Pass: Carrie Prepares for Theatrefest

Claire Weigus, Editor-in-Chief

Taking place at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Theatrefest consists of three days dedicated to highlighting high-level Illinois theatre programs. Hinsdale South was able to qualify for this event after a panel of judges came to watch their production on Friday, November 11th, 2022. 

Following their viewing of Carrie, the judges met with the entire cast and crew. In this discussion the panel noted the importance of what Sophia Yen describes as, the musical’s “dark themes, done in a way that is tangible and real”. One week later, Hinsdale South’s cast and crew were notified of the honor; they would be the only school that gets to perform twice at this prestigious event.  

This can be attributed to the theatre program’s ability to fully grasp the concept of mental health throughout the production. The director, Danny Yuska, thought it would be beneficial in relaying that prominent message by: seeking advice from mental health professionals as the play was being constructed, having a cast meeting with two of Hinsdale South’s social workers, and closing the show with a message, advocating for people to reach out when they are struggling. All of these procedures proved important before executing a show with heavy topics interwoven into the plot, coinciding with the talent of everyone involved with the show. 

This will be the first Theatrefest for the entire cast, due to the prior years being canceled, stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and its restrictions. Though the cast has quickly discovered the demanding nature that prepping for a theatre festival calls for. From needing extra costumes, adapting to a new space, renting a semi truck to transport props, and even going on vocal rest, the two weeks of daily rehearsals, including weekend afternoons from two until six, have consumed the lives of all affiliated with this production. 

With a tight schedule on show day, leaving only four hours between the two of Hinsdale South’s performances, the cast must work efficiently to make the second rendition run as smoothly as the first. Three out of these four hours are consumed with arranging the complex sets, while the remainder of the time is dedicated to other significant details, for example: the changing of cast member Nikki Jason and Sophia Yen’s costumes, a necessary adjustment due to the pouring of blood on Carrie towards the end of the performance. 

Before the show the cast gets three hours to spike the stage with tape and construct their set. This process will run differently than on the Hinsdale South stage, as Lily Levine described the stage as an “entirely different space”. The entirety of the show had to be reblocked catering to the festival’s thinner and longer stage. 

Not only are the cast and crew putting in the work in rehearsals, but their dedication for this craft can be seen through the manual labor that the week of Theatrefest also entails. The school rented a semi truck for Thursday, and the cast has been exempt from their ninth and tenth period classes on that day to help load the truck. According to Sophia Yen, the most important props that will be loaded onto the semi truck are Margaret’s knife and Carrie’s prom tiara. The juxtaposition of Carrie wearing the tiara after winning prom queen while she proceeds to kill everyone at the prom, deciphers this prop as a valuable symbol in the show. 

During the week leading up to Theatrefest, the cast has to take precautions guaranteeing that they are ready to perform at this reputable event. Tyler Hallman is on vocal rest for the days leading up to the show. He believes that “the hardest part of being on vocal rest is trying to get teachers to understand [his] position. To them, it seems like [he’s] being over-dramatic, but the results can be so changing”. He has never been on vocal rest and can not tell if it has benefited him yet, but he is optimistic that it will. Hallman found himself taking part in a vocal rest because “[his] singing voice isn’t there in [his] high notes and [he] consistently crack[s]. With such a vocally demanding show, this is very scary for [him]”. 

The rigor involved with preparing for Theatrefest is only to further amplify the intensity exerted by the Hinsdale South drama department throughout the entirety of these months of rehearsals and shows.