The Backstage Family: Inside the Tech Crews of Rent


Anna Henning

The stage is set.

Caroline Sears

I remember the very first time I went to a show at Fossil Ridge High School. By the time the lights dimmed, I was hooked. I was amazed that the actors were high school students. Ever since, I have attended every show hosted in the Performing Arts Center. Each time, they are magic.

This year, the show is Rent. Now, let me be honest. In my many years of watching shows in the auditorium, I was oblivious to the hundreds of lighting changes, costume switches, and projections that make the show a reality for the audience. All I saw was a seemingly real story portrayed on the stage. This year, Rent will take over that stage with hours of rehearsal and hard work behind it. Nothing has showed me the magic of theater more than this musical.

I am an Assistant Stage Manager for Rent. This basically means I check in with all crews and guide communication throughout the show.  As we first started working back in September, I worried that others would judge me for my position and age.I worried that I wouldn’t fit in with a crew because I was a little part of each. I carried a floral patterned notebook, empty at the time, now covered with scribbles and crossed-out to-do lists.

But, as soon as I saw the hardworking crews putting ideas into action right off the bat, I knew there would be no judgement. Within a little less than three months, we built a corner of New York City, stitched the clothes that hang in the actors’ closets, and lit the street lamps and Christmas lights on the characters’ porch. For hours of hard work each day after school, until eight or nine at night,  people are creating the magic you see on stage. Some days passed quickly through my mind whilst others will stick with me forever. I spent my days at tech witnessing all of this come together.

I remember tech auditions; I remember getting the tech cast list; I remember the very first day of tech all like it was yesterday. I had worried that the leads would disapprove of a freshman telling them that, “This has to be done by Friday”. But, instead, the opposite happened.

Instead, I found the leads and crew members becoming my best friends and cheering me up when I had a tough day. Instead of being a tiny part of each crew, I was a part of a family. I rarely had to tell anyone what to do; rather, they showed me the products of their determination. As much as it feels that we have worked for 525,600 minutes, the end product is beautiful. We get to share the show and its beauty with our little community, something I used to watch and admire in the audience. Now, I’m backstage when the lights dim and the first note is sung. I thank the theatre department for being there for me. Rent’s core values are love and friendship, and it’s not the lyrics that showed me this. I have always defined friends as people that will be there for you to the end, and looking back, I know I found my true friends here.