Behind the Scenes of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella By Daisy Sisneros

     I arrived to Chaffey High School at 6 pm sharp, and my night would consist of acting as a ‘fly on the wall’ as I watched behind the scenes action of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, a musical put on by theatrical producers Mr. Dave Masterson, Mr. Aaron Anderson, and Mr. Brock McCorkle.
     Just as I suspected, things were already going in full flow by the time I arrived; the horses were arriving outside, the cast was going over dance moves, and Arianna Nelson, the star of the show, was rehearsing with Mr. Anderson and practicing vocals.
     In numerous dressing rooms that line the theater wings, cast members dressed, many of whom tried not to break the rule of ‘no eating while in costume.’
     Stage producers checked props and the curtain was drawn and closed once the audience began to fill the seats.
     I was given a tour of the process by a few of the ushers, Kim and Karin Aleman-Bravo and Caesar Vitela.
     With fifteen minutes left until show time, I was taken outside to see a line of people extending from the double doors of Gardiner W. Spring Auditorium to the gates that surround the front of the school.
     The show has been a smash success, with over 6,080 people seeing the first three shows on opening day.
     I watched as children tugged at parents’ sleeves with anticipation and excitement gleaming in their eyes.
     At the voice of Mr. Masterson, who emceed from the control booth, I was hurried backstage to see the rush really begin. Arianna Nelson and Joel Ayala were ready in costume for the first act. Mr. Anderson was constantly picking at their costumes as he made sure everything was in top shape.
     Rosie, the head of the tech crew behind the scenes, was my main pair of eyes as I watched what was going on. Every few minutes, she would tell me what was being done and by whom it was being performed.
     I was able to meet all the characters and anyone behind the set that made the show possible. The show began at approximately 7:23 pm; the music started, and the curtain was drawn up within seconds.
     The show flowed perfectly; props were moved with ease and characters were given approximately a minute and thirty seconds to change into their costumes as they ran on and off stage.
     The smoke machines were on and bellowing as strong as ever, blinding my view when combined with the lights in use.
     I could only imagine how intense it was for those on stage.
     The props were reversible. For example, the prop used as Cinderella’s house, once turned around on stage, seemed to be a different room.
     For a solid minute, as the show switched scenes, I was pushed and blinded by everyone moving to their designated areas with only seconds to spare.
     It almost felt as if I was getting the wind knocked out of me as I secluded myself against one of the walls.
     Another girl backstage, a tech staffer named Jasmine, pulled me to safety, since I was pretty new to everything. She laughed and pointed out what was happening.
     “You might get hit by one of the objects, even people who are in tech can sometimes get distracted or hurt,” she said.
After my little spaced out moment, things calmed down as the next scene took place.
     Classical music played so loudly that I could barely hear the people talking next to me behind the stage. Dylan, one of the main tech workers, took me to a side of the stage and pointed out to where I could see everything and everyone.
     In my eyes, it felt as if I was right behind Topher, played by Joel Ayala, as he belted his heart out. I watched as parents sat in the front row and saw the pride in their eyes.
     Once I knew that the scene was going to change yet again, I walked back to my designated area to see Mr. McCorkle smiling with satisfaction, his lips mumbled along with the lines that were spoken on stage.
     Time passed, and I took my notes silently in my corner. I soon realized that would be my safe corner.
     But as I was jotting down notes, a sort of tension filled the air.
     “No one in the audience could really tell but one of us messed up,” Rosie said and pointed to a curtain that was drawn down.
     It was their first mistake of the night, and it seemed to be a minor problem. The problem had been that the curtain was drawn too soon and fell onto the actor who played Sebastian, also known as Greg Negrete.
     The problem was shrugged off though by Anderson who had more important work to do. Time passed and soon it was time for the epic ball scene.
     Nelson walked off stage and downed a bottle of water before changing into her blue transformation dress. The transformation on stage was coming, and I wasn’t going to miss it. I ran to a clear side of the wings and kept my eyes wide open. I wanted to catch every moment as the tempo began to speed up.
     Then like magic as others had said, she was dressed in her light blue dress and ‘glass’ heels accompanied by a mask since it indeed was a masquerade ball.
vThe miniature horses were out and I could hear the crowd screaming. I think they were more excited over real horses than Cinderella’s stunning transformation.
     Arianna boarded her carriage and the horses roamed in figure eights with ease.
     “To be honest they’re actually doing great tonight,” Rosie stated as she motioned towards the horses.
     Apparently, the horses were the real drama queens of the show, and when they first arrived to Chaffey they were digging their hooves into the stage and were very confused as they stood on new ground.
     However, my attention shifted from the horses and onto the scene in front of me. Cinderella and Topher were dancing with the other Ladies and Gentlemen of the Court, and to my right and left the tech crew was also dancing with each other.
     I couldn’t help but smile at the scene in front of me. They held in their laughter as they danced and anyone else who wasn’t dancing rolled their eyes or pointed them out.
     It was getting close to intermission and they began wrapping things up. It was time for Cinderella to leave the ball and time for me to watch with my eyes wide open. Cinderella ran up the balcony stairs with the Prince chasing after her and left her shoe on the stairs just like the script said.
     It ended with the curtain being drawn and intermission began at 8:20 pm. While I thought everything went great, I turned around to see that the tech crew was cringing with worry.
     I asked what had happened and realized that this was their second and last mistake of the night. Apparently, Cinderella left her shoe in the wrong place on the staircase. While the problem went unnoticed by the crowd, who was now rushing to the snack bar and restrooms, it didn’t go unnoticed by the crew.
     The cast didn’t mind though as they relaxed on the staircase and backstage, instead of worrying about the minor issue. I walked out to the snack bar to get some fresh air since the smoke machines were almost suffocating.
     But I made the wrong choice as I was shoved by critical parents and families who were discussing how the show had been so far.
Being the curious person I am, I listened in on some of the conversations, only to hear nothing but good words. The children were discussing the horses and how pretty Cinderella was, while the parents discussed how well the actors had performed.
     The only other comment I heard was a woman suggesting that they use more real animals in the show. But it was strange since I don’t think people would like live raccoons and rats scurrying across the stage.
     I returned backstage, and now it was my time to enjoy the other side of the wings. Twenty minutes later, intermission ended and the show resumed at 8:44 pm. I kept my eye on the characters, and my guide Rosie had to leave me, since she played a role in the musical as well.
     Time passed once again and everything went smoothly. The show was drawing out with kissing scenes from Jean-Michel and Charlotte, and the crowd screamed loudly.
     But not as loud as when Cinderella and Topher kissed. They screamed their heads off and the cast just laughed.
     The cast was singing their hearts out and dancing till their feet began to hurt. The show was drawing to a close as they did their final bows. They received a standing ovation for their hard work.
     It was hard to tell when the show ended, but it was great all in all. I paid my respects to everyone who had looked out for me that night and to the cast as well. They rejoiced by complimenting each other and ran to their dressing rooms to pack up and go home.
     “They did really great tonight. I’m very proud of them,” Mr. Masterson stated.
     I bid Cinderella and Topher a farewell as they went to take pictures with the audience and soon went home myself. The show was just as magical as everyone had said and a total treat to experience from backstage.

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