Behind the curtains of WHS
January 4, 2017
The doors close, music begins to fill the room, and the opening scene begins. This year’s production of White Christmas lights up the stage, but have you ever wondered what goes on behind the curtain? Behind the song and dance is a group of people integral to the show; the backstage crew. They change sets, tell actors where to go, and cart props from one end of the stage to the other. It’s a production in itself, and at the heart of the team is assistant stage manager Natalee Aalgaard.
Aalgaard auditioned for Hairspray her freshman year but didn’t get a role. Although she was disappointed, she didn’t let this setback stop her. “I just wanted to be involved somehow,” she said. “Right before swim practice every day I’d sprint down to rehearsal and see if there was anything I could do. Sometimes I would be late to [swim] practice because I was filing papers or something, just so they knew my name down there.”
Aalgaard’s work ethic was quickly noticed by stage manager Michelle Littler. “I saw how great she was to work with. Without knowing me or anyone else, she would automatically step in and help. That’s the kind of person I want to be my co-stage manager,” she said. Aalgaard has been a part of backstage crew every year since. “She emanates the best person you could ever think of,” said Littler, “That’s just her.”
Hairspray was the first of six plays and musicals Aalgaard has worked on, including the current musical, White Christmas. As a assistant stage manager, she manages stage right (left, if you’re in the audience). The backstage crew consists of 10 to 15 people depending on the night, eight of whom are under Aalgaard’s management. These individuals are in charge of the sets, including scenery, props, and anything else that may be on the stage. “There is a ton of stuff that could go wrong,” said Aalgaard. “We’re there to make it not go wrong.”
In addition to working backstage, Aalgaard helps with other aspects of the production. “She has done so much for [White Christmas]. Besides the backstage part, she has been an integral part of this show from the beginning. She’s had her hand in just about everything,” said Littler. Aalgaard said she’s helped with hair and makeup, painted almost every set, and was a student director for past shows. “If you see it onstage I’ve probably touched it,” she said.
In the future, Aalgaard said she may consider trying acting again. “Now that I’m more confident in myself during auditions, I think I could do a lot better. I’ve always wanted to be on stage,” she said. “I just find so much more opportunity backstage to get my hands into things.”