Behind the Scenes of “Clue” with Stage Crew


Sophomore Ginny Driscoll (Adv. 403) prepares to paint the set walls. (Photo by Greg Schaefer)

Greg Schaefer, News Editor

A couple students draw sketch lines on a set wall. Others crack open yellow cans of paint. Some hunt down pieces of wood that are just the right size. Northside’s Stage Crew worked at a furious pace each day to prepare for the fall play, “Clue.” Their behind-the-scenes work was an intricate operation.

Stage Crew arranges the sets, lighting and sound for performances like the fall play, spring musical, I-Day/Night or any event held in the auditorium. Senior Jeweli Hill (Adv. 206), the official president of the Crew, has become familiar with every switch and lever of the backstage operation over their four years on the Crew. 

Senior Vivian Nguyen (Adv. 202) searches for the perfect piece of wood. (Photo by Greg Schaefer)

Stage Crew began preparations for “Clue” six weeks ago with set construction–a task they finished just before opening night. Crew members used drills and sometimes saws to cut wood into the right shapes and sizes for the set’s walls. “We’re not allowed to use the table saw,” said Hill. This job is reserved for Mr. Michael Lill, Music Department, who sponsors the club with School Community Representative Mr. William Miller.

During “Tech Week,” the week preceding a performance, the Crew programmed lights, sound and any other set pieces to work out any complications. For example, they created a “mic map” to work out which switch corresponds to each actor’s microphone so the sound workers could mute and unmute actors appropriately.

Stage Crew also worked on stylistic choices with Ms. Kyra Doherty, the director of the play. “She’s the one who does a lot of the design work in terms of lighting,” said Hill. Additionally, the stage manager, senior Alex Garcia (Adv. 207) facilitated communication between the cast and crew.

Two crew members, Kevin Sanchez-Carrizales (Adv 209) and Emanuel Esparza (Adv. 402), sketch bookshelves into walls. (Photo by Greg Schaefer)

During performances, Stage Crew members took on different roles. Some worked in the “box,” at the back of the auditorium, to coordinate sound and lights. A few controlled the spotlight, while others worked in the wings — hidden areas left and right of the stage —  to move set pieces. Another person was in charge of pulling the curtain open and closed. One Crew member also sat with the audience, “letting the sound people know if anything needs to be adjusted,” said Hill.

The script is the “Holy Writ” of the Crew. “Any cues that need to happen, whether they’re light cues or sound cues or spot cues, need to end up getting written in our copies of the script,” said Hill. “Some [members’] jobs will be making sure they’re following the script and making sure that everything gets queued in the appropriate places.”

Many shows require specialized undertakings by the Crew. In the 2020 performance of Into the Woods, members of Stage Crew raised up a constructed beanstalk for Jack to climb. “We’ll also have something similar for ‘Clue,’” said Hill, referencing the chandelier that crushed Mr. Green in Act 2.

It’s planning time for Senior Jennifer Gonzalez. (Adv. 202) (Photo by Greg Schaefer)

The Stage Crew club has seen a surge in interest this school year, with nearly 100 members on the email list. This has at times been a challenge. “A big part of stage crew is training people to work the tech,” Hill said, “but as you can see, [the control room] is not big enough for 75.”

When asked what their best memories of Stage Crew are, Hill said, “moments where something’s accidentally gone wrong. That’s obviously bad, but it kind of makes it exciting. We had a minor electrical incident with the chandelier for Sense and Sensibility, which led to some sparks flying everywhere.”

Senior Jennifer Gonzalez (Adv. 202), who was preparing to paint the bookshelves of the set walls, said a highlight of Stage Crew is “tearing down the whole entire thing after the play and the musical. I think that’s… definitely memorable.”

Freshman Charlie Duritsa (Adv. 502) joined Stage Crew after his friends encouraged him to come to meetings. After two days as an official member, Duritsa already had some memorable moments. “Just now, a friend had to run across to the gas station for Mr. Lill,” he said. “It was a disaster because the gas station apparently doesn’t have Coke or pretzels currently.”

Senior Prea Silao (Adv. 202) works with a piece of wood. (Photo by Greg Schaefer)

Senior Marcus Figueras (Adv. 207) joined his freshman year after encouragement from his older brother. When asked what his best memories were, he said, “We were rehearsing for Into the Woods, and when they were feeding us food, [there was a sense of] camaraderie when we were all just hanging out and having a meal.”

Students interested in joining Stage Crew can get in touch with a senior member like Hill or come to one of their Tuesday meetings.

Hill said, “This isn’t a thing I expected to do when I came to Northside, but I’ve learned a lot, and I’m really glad that I was able to join.”