Behind the Curtain: Fargo South’s Tech Crew


Della Phillips, Editor-in-Chief

With the show dates for this year’s musical, “Beauty and the Beast”, fast approaching, both cast and crew are buckling down to get ready for production. But while the actors are who you’ll see onstage, the people who make it all possible don’t get nearly enough credit. The technicians (“techies”) behind “Beauty and the Beast” are working incredibly hard to make the musical the best it can be.

Before they begin, the tech crew establishes their timeline based on production dates for the musical, then work backward from there. “Routinely, we try to have six weeks of building and painting before we load in,” said Phillip Godel, technical director. The load-in (the weekend when all set pieces are brought onto the stage) is usually the four week mark – the kickoff to when the work really begins.

Those four weeks leading up to the performance get extremely busy as there is a lot of work to do and not a lot of time. This is when the time commitment really begins for students in the tech crew. “Before the load in, it’s very, like, ‘come when you can’,” Godel explained. But once things really get rolling, the technicians need to be there just as much as the cast does. That’s when they begin deciding each person’s role – whether they’re running the sound board, lights, part of the deck crew, etc. Those helping during production night must be at every rehearsal, because technicians need to rehearse also!

One thing they will be paying extra attention to this year is lighting. The lights for Beauty and the Beast are predicted to be a little more challenging than in previous productions due to the position of the actors on the set. The castle will be up against the back wall, and the actors will be between 8 and 10 feet up off the stage, which will be trickier to light, according to Godel.

On the night of the performance, call time for technicians is around 5 pm. They start working on costumes and makeup, set up the microphones, do a sound check, and make sure the stage and house are ready for production. At 7 they open the doors, and the show starts at 7:30. The technicians then put everything they’ve worked for into motion as they help the actors shine onstage. Afterwards, they put away costumes and props and get ready for the next day.

What Godel would really like people to understand is how vital technicians are to a smooth production. Each member of the crew has a specific job that they need to rehearse for just like the actors do. “Although we try not to be seen… we’re just as important because if you’re an actor and your prop isn’t onstage… the actor is kind of left high and dry,” said Godel.

To see the hard work of the technicians – and the entire theater department – in action, go see “Beauty and the Beast” on December 8, 9, 10 or 11!