North’s stage crew works to provide setting, context to Theatre Ink shows


Junior Sonia Murthy and sophomores Amelie Raynes, and Anna Scales work on creating costumes for the upcoming musical Godspell.

Leah Ziskin

Whether musical or improvised, the glitz and glamor of every show put on by North’s theater program, Theatre Ink, is evident in its polished and well executed shows. But behind the finished product, there is a team of student designers, painters, and builders hard at work to give the audience a finished performance.

Students on stage crew can work to create the world of a show through set design, or define characters through hair and makeup. These elements combine to bring a show to life. According to senior Leo Kett, a sound designer and stage crew member, “The lighting, set, sound, or costumes and hair and makeup all help immerse the audience in the world and make the characters feel more realistic.”

Props, sets, and costumes provide context the audience needs to be fully immersed in the show. From Mamma Mia (2022), a musical set on a private Greek island in the 1990s, to Hello Dolly! (2020), set in New York in the 1880s, Theatre Ink produces shows spanning hundreds of years and set all around the world. 

According to junior Louisa Matos, the props student department head, “Props add a lot of setting and perspective to the show. If the show is set in a certain time, then people are going to realize what time it is because you would have one kind of phone in this year and not this year.”

Other than enhancing the final product, clothing designs are pivotal elements of getting an actor to understand their character. 

“Costumes help actors get into character and it helps tell the story of a character’s background and history,” said junior Sonia Murthy, head of the costumes department. 

It takes months to curate personalized costumes for each show, according to Murthy.

“First we get a script and research the show, and our designers come up with a design. Then, we start to put those ideas from mood boards into pulling pieces from the department. From there we paint, sew, and craft to make the costumes,” said Murthy.

Most of stage crew is primarily student run. Students are involved in all aspects of the process from designing to building. 

According to sophomore Miranda Newstadt, a member of stage crew, “Since the teacher isn’t telling them exactly where to go it leaves a lot of room for creativity from the students.”

Students’ heavy involvement in the process of creating a show provides an opportunity to experience hands-on work. Theatre Ink supports that opportunity and even gives juniors and seniors on stage crew the chance to earn money for their work.

“I love it because not only do I get to continue doing what I love, but I get to get paid for it as well,” said senior Zoe Burd, the Wigs, Hair, and Makeup (WHAM) student department head.

Apart from departments of stage crew who work to create physical products for Theatre Ink’s shows, student producers and stage managers work to support the cast and the program as a whole.

According to senior Josh Kim, a stage manager, “Stage managers are the logistical head of any theater production. They manage schedules, they send out information to the cast and crew, they facilitate communication between designers and directors, and make sure everyone knows what is happening and when it is happening.”

Along with Theatre Ink’s hard working stage managers, the program also has a team of student producers. These students deal with finances, create programs, organize meals for the cast during production week, plan merchandise, and much more.

According to junior Isabel Salgado, a student producer, “What makes it really special is I feel like I interact with all parts of the program. Crew, actors, TAOC (Theatre Arts Opportunities Committee), and Brown.”

The stunning work of stage crew does not go unappreciated by other members of Theatre Ink.

According to sophomore Jonathan Santos, a Mamma Mia cast member, “I was really impressed with everything Stumes and WHAM were able to do for Mamma Mia. The costumes, hair, and makeup looked amazing.”

Along with the diligent work and creativity that students on stage crew put in, according to Burd, for many, stage crew feels like a second home that they can come to after school every day.

Murthy said, “We work hard, but we also get to have a lot of fun and meet new people. It’s a really fun community and that’s one of the great parts of stage crew.”