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Behind the Red Curtain of MHS Musical Theater

By Vrittee Sobti | Posted June 13, 2024


Every spring, Montgomery residents flock to the Montgomery High School Performing Arts Center and settle into the rows of bright red chairs. As the stage curtain flourishes open and the first notes of music ring out, they prepare to spend the next few hours entranced in the magical world of high school theater.

Lighting crew programming the scene changes for Radium Girls, Fall 2023.


The production process begins long before the curtain rises. Director Neelam Makvana explains the process of selecting the musical. “[The directors] try to choose a show that has clear differences (style, music, choreography, time period, etc.) from the previous year’s show.” After the rights to the chosen production are secured, the show is announced. Auditions and callbacks take place in December, with cast rehearsals beginning in January.

The Pit Orchestra during rehearsal for The Addams Family, Spring 2024


The other musical aspect to the show, Pit Orchestra, “ starts rehearsing as a group at least once per week in late December and continues [until] the production weekend in March, “ says Rebecca Palmer, director of the Pit Orchestra. The Orchestra varies in terms of size and instruments involved depending on the production each year.


The technical teams, Stage Crew and Audio/Visual (AV) Club, also begin working early. “An early meeting with the director is crucial, and a careful reading of the script. [We need to] get an idea [of] what is needed by the director for each show [and what] needs to be built,” says C. Peter Kauzmann, Stage Crew and set construction supervisor. Stage Crew builds, paints, moves, and teaches actors how to use sets and props during performances. “I call it the ‘dance,’ and we work very hard to make scene changes smooth, unobtrusive and, often, interesting,” says Kauzmann.


The AV Club is responsible for sound and light, ensuring the audience can see and hear the show. Lights and sound are also used to further the storytelling and enrich the artistic aspects. “We typically will begin discussing more complex technical elements early on…so we have the maximum amount of time to come up with the best possible solution,” adds Jason Orbe, AV Club advisor.


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The parent volunteers play a large role in handling the final, minute details. Many played a role in passing out food, assisting with costuming by adding zippers, sewing, and getting small items needed, and just being there for the students. “All of those things that everybody sees, food, concessions, it all needs to be organized…But if the only thing I did [is] just be there for the children, I would do that in a heartbeat,” says one parent volunteer. “It is critical for all of the different departments of the show to be on the same page…to produce a cohesive production. We are all in constant communication…to make the show the best it can be,” says Orbe.


There are hundreds of dedicated members involved in putting on a good show, from cast to crew to directors to volunteers. Every aspect and moment of the show is meticulously planned, yet “it is nearly impossible to have a performance that goes completely perfect,” says Orbe. Nonetheless, the “hope [is] that the audience can sit back, relax, and enjoy getting lost in a super fun story line,” says Palmer.

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