Backstage with Mask & Wig
'A State of Confucian' opens tonight for a six-show run at Iron Gate Thatre
October 15, 2013, 9:11 pm · Updated October 15, 2013, 9:34 pm·
Andres De los Rios | DP
“House lights down! Ready to cue!”
College senior and Mask & Wig stage manager AJ Rossi made this call to start the ensemble’s final dress rehearsal last night of its fall show “A State of Confucian.” The show debuts tonight at the Iron Gate Theatre for a total of six shows running through Saturday.
At the rehearsal, one could hear a cacophony of commands echoing through the theatre. The band warms up and tunes. The crew makes sound checks on the monitors and microphones. In the background, staple guns fire as the crew fixes the sets and tap shoes click-clack on the stage as the cast perfects its routine.
Rossi runs around the theatre to check the status of each section. Once everything is set, the theatre darkens and the band begins to play with an electric guitar ripping out the first note of the opening number.
The show begins with an overture composed by the Mask & Wig band, followed immediately by a portion of sketches and bits. The show is punctuated throughout by the band’s own arrangements of popular songs.
Before each section, Rossi shouts out the technical layout for the following bit. Cast members are called on stage and the stage manager cues to raise the lights.
If mistakes occur during a sketch, everyone stops to correct the errors. Anything from adjusting a cast member’s position on stage to a delay in sound effects — someone catches and corrects the mistake.
Off stage, the crew works on the technical aspects up in the studio, while non-performing members observe from the seats — and use these breaks to cram in homework time. Someone walks across a ledge overhead to adjust the positions of lights.
The first act closes with a tap dance choreographed by College senior Zach Tomasovic.
“It can’t be a Wig show without a tap,” said College senior Noah Goldstein, chairman of Mask & Wig.
While the show mainly showcases Mask & Wig’s staple brand of sketch comedy, it also gives the ensemble a platform to introduce its newest members to the ins and outs of production.
“The show is about teaching the new guys how to tap, write sketches and use power tools,” Rossi said.
Every member of the cast, crew, band and business staff has poured extreme effort into the production. The process began at the beginning of the summer with the initial conception of the show.
The show’s storyline comes from a theme selected by Rossi, which the cast then develops and writes. “This year is mystical with a temple in the wilderness, searching for enlightenment, Zen and Shangri-La,” College senior and head of cast Kevin Seelaus said.
The ensemble began practicing once its fall auditions closed, continued all through fall break and conducted six-plus-hour practices leading up to the show.
“It’s not real while they’re rehearsing, it’s not real when they’re getting into costume,” Goldstein said of his fellow members. “It’s when the band bangs out that first note — then it’s real.”
The show promises to be a success as it incorporates the old traditions and some new surprises as well. Seelaus encourages the audience to look out for the multimedia aspects in the show, something brand new to Mask & Wig.
Tickets for the show can be purchased on Locust Walk across from Steinberg-Dietrich Hall.