Saavedra-Weis describes a day in the life of the cast and crew of Les Misérables


Isabel Saavedra-Weis

Costume and makeup changes take place in the makeup and dressing rooms in between scenes.

A normal school day, filled with tests, quizzes, assessments, and mentally taxing thoughts is over. Students flow out of the school, off to spend a few hours in a sport or at home. But for student thespians, the day seems to have just started. The amount of work that goes into a show is immense, and this year’s Les Misérables in no exception. There are tearful rehearsals, choreography days that seem to last forever, and last but most definitely not least: tech week. A week of non-stop singing and dancing in a flurry of costumes and confusion backstage as the show gets pieced together. Because I am a cast member in the musical, I get the closest look into what happens behind the stage during tech week, where all the magic happens. Here’s what a day would look like:

3:00 – School is out. Students grab their bags and hurry to Driscoll to eat a quick dinner before they get into costume. Today’s menu: pasta, chicken, and homemade baked goods.

3:45 – Many of the students are just starting to get costumes pieces. The cast is big this year with more than 60 people, so finding outfits that fit everyone can be challenging. Once in costume, the students get some comments from director, Mr. Severson (known by the cast and crew as Seves), and then start the show from the beginning.

3:45- 5:30 – Not every cast member, no matter how important, is needed on stage during every scene. Many students try to spend the free moments they have between scenes and songs doing homework. If a student is in a scene, they are expected to give it their all while performing and help with scene changes before and after the song. Backstage can be a very hectic and stressful place.

5:30 – Intermission! Students have between five and ten minutes to have a snack, get a drink, change costumes and recharge before they start the next scene. Mr. Severson will help some students run through some of the rockier scenes and the crew will reset the set pieces backstage.

5:40-7:00 – Students run through Act II. This is maybe even more tiring, because it can feel like the rehearsing is never going to stop. Again, actors put a smile (or a frown, depending on what part of the show you are in) on their faces while under the lights, but while backstage it is a desperate race to try and get set pieces on and off the stage.

7:00 – The students receive some final notes from the director, conductor and choreographer. Then they change out of their costumes and head home.

Tech week is, in short, grueling. The entire show is run through every day up until opening night. It’s mentally, vocally and technologically taxing, and even physically taxing. Just ask the people who have to waltz across the stage in rib-hugging ball gowns. But tech week is also a week of bonding, eureka moments and hopefully, a stunning final result.