The Stage Crew Behind the Musical ‘Godspell’

Stage Crew has worked so hard for the musical ‘Godspell’ to happen and they deserve much applause.


Nora Maher

At the front of the picture is Tenzin Samten (Stage Manager) and from front to back are Emith Uyanwatte (Lights Director), Lydia Du (Lights Assistant), Madison Lee (Member of Sounds), and Zoe Levitt (Sounds Assistance). In this photo, all of them are going over their cues and making sure there aren’t any lights or sound issues before one run through starts.

On May 19th and 20th, 2022, Bronx Science drama students performed the musical Godspell. Usually, whenever a musical or play is produced, almost everyone will talk about the cast’s wonderful acting and singing (which was amazing), but rarely mentioned are those that work on the performances behind-the-scenes. Stage Crew, also part of The Atomic Theater Company, is composed of five departments: Paint Crew, Sounds, Lights, Costumes, and Props.

Stage Crew started preparing for the musical as early as February 2022, where directors and assistants of each department learned what was needed, what would happen during the musical, and planned what needed to be done over the next two months. Then, in March 2022, the regular members of each department came in and started working on the musical.

Art Director Yvonne Fong ’23 started sketching out the backdrop back in March 2022 with the intention of creating a city landscape. The landscape was meant to remind the audience of New York, but also give a modern feel to a musical that was originally written during the 1970s. Initially, the backdrop was going to be just the silhouette of skyscrapers, but a last-minute decision was made to also incorporate windows. This created much difficulty for Fong, who resorted to drawing the windows by freehand in order to complete the backdrop on time. With the help of her assistant, Fiona Mclaughlin ’25, and members Ellena Wang ’23, Tammy Lam ’25, Anisia Wong ’23, and Lara Adamjee ’25, Paint Crew was able to create a backdrop with abstract windows that turned out amazing. Along with that, Paint Crew also created boulders and trees with the help of Mr. McGrath, the Assistant Principal of the Physical Education department. The work was divided up so that Mr. McGrath dealt with anything that required the use of power tools and wood, while Paint Crew was responsible for painting and designing.

While Paint Crew was busy trying to quickly produce the backdrop, trees, and boulders, Props and Costumes made many decisions and created backups for their plans while waiting for orders to arrive. Of all the departments, Props and Costumes worked with each other the most. The two departments shared a room, and many of their responsibilities overlapped. One of the many things they did together was creating a spreadsheet. “One of the multiple spreadsheets Props used was a joint spreadsheet with Costumes. We have been using joint spreadsheets since working on our first performance of this school year, The Laramie Project. I feel like this made it easier to see an overall list of things we all needed for this musical,” said Props Director Safia Neha ’23. This spreadsheet laid out what costumes and props each actor needed at the very start of the show to ensure the actors knew what props they needed and what costumes they would wear.

Yvonne Fong (Art Director) places a bouquet of flowers on stage as one of the props. (David Pagan)

This may sound like an easy process, but this was just as tasking as painting the backdrop. The Props team had to keep track of when each actor received their necessary props and constantly had to create new props since many of them are completely destroyed after each rehearsal or performance. For Costumes, Costume Director Vanessa Encarnacion ’25, Member Mysha Rahman ’23, and I, Benzir Raida ’23, struggled to get a good idea about what costumes to buy. “A challenge was the vision changing constantly, with a costume being confirmed one day and two days later being scrapped. It definitely caused confusion and uncertainty especially with the musical so soon and no confirmed costume,” said Rahman. Regardless of the many costume changes, it was still difficult, especially when Costumes still didn’t have a good idea on how a set of costumes should look modern, which was the original theme. For Props, changes were made in the stage directions, so for Neha, Kevin Liu ’24, and Saifa Sowa ’23, some props had to be excluded and others that were completely different from what the script asked for needed to be purchased. Along with that, they had to constantly recreate the foil crowns, which were destroyed after each run of the show.

Props, Costumes, and Paint can always be found backstage during the performances and rehearsals, but the Sounds and Lights departments are at the back of the auditorium. Sounds is composed of Sound Director Mia Goldberg ’22, Sounds Assistant Zoe Levitt ’25, and Madison Lee ’25. This group was in charge of cueing in the music for each scene at the right time. This was quite difficult, especially when some scenes called for two tracks being played back-to-back as quickly as possible to make the transition from one song to the next as smooth as possible. Along with that, before each performance, the department is responsible for attaching microphones to the actors, an arduous process in and of itself. Being part of Sounds also meant listening to the Godspell soundtrack nearly every day, leaving each member with strong opinions about the music. For example, Levitt absolutely loves the music and has constantly sung along with the soundtrack, notably the song, “All for The Best,” performed by the duo Naomi Liu ’22 (played as Judas) and Noah Horn ’23 (played as Jesus).

Mia Goldberg (Sounds Director) attaches a mic on Julia Gallant (who played the character of Julia) before one run-through begins. Goldberg makes sure that the tape is secured on Julia’s face and would later ask Julia to sing to make sure there are no audio issues. (Nora Maher)

Lights is composed of Light Director Emith Uyanwatte ’22, and members Lydia Du ’24 and Lara Adamjee ’25. Of all the departments, the work done by Lights is arguably some of the most noticeable because of the use of dramatic lighting during the performances. One of the many challenges faced was the lack of members in Lights. This created a huge obstacle for the Lights team because Uyanwatte and Du did not have any other members that could take their place if one of them got sick, leaving much strain on the duo. This is where Lara, who was originally part of Paint Crew, came to the rescue! Although it was difficult for Lights to do their job, they still loved it. “The spotlights are low key and really fun because you can vibe by yourself if you’re not busy, or if you are busy, the novelty of the spotlights doesn’t really wear off,” said Du.

Lara Adamjee ’25 is a member of both Lights and Paint Crew. Here, Adamjee using the spotlights and the index cards taped to the wall. The index cards let her know when her spotlight cues are going to occur. (Nora Maher)

When May 2022 approached, anticipation in each department reached an all-time high. Everyone, including the actors, went through full run-throughs, where the show was performed from beginning to end. This was often the most stressful part for each department. Props had to make sure all the props were placed at the right spots throughout the show. Costumes had to figure out a way to do costume changes as quickly as possible, making sure all eleven actors changed into their new costumes in a mere ninety seconds during “Prepare Ye” and “God Save The People.” Not only that, during “God Save The People,” Stage Assistants Tasfia Rahaman ’23 and Jeffrey Wang ’23, had to bring in the table on stage. Sounds had to play the music at the exact time and transition into the next song as seamlessly as possible. Lights had to provide spotlights for two of the actors, Liu (played as Judas) and Julia Gallant ’22 (played as Sonia), and they had to change the lights quickly but neatly during “Turn Back O’ Man.”

With so many important cues to make sure the timing is exactly right, Stage Manager Tenzin Samten ’24 gave the directors and some members of Run Crew walkie-talkies. Doing this helped Samten coordinate with Lights, Sounds, and Props for a seamless performance by reminding the directors when their cue comes in or addressing any issue that they see. Samten arguably had the most stressful job, since Samten had to watch over all the departments and help them in any way possible. “As someone who has never been taught how to be a stage manager, it was difficult at first,” said Samten. 

From left to right are Yvonne Fong (Art Director), Tasfia Rahaman (Stage Assistants), Kevin Liu (Member of Props), Jeffrey Wang (Stage Assistants), Madison Lee (Member of Sounds), Grace Lim ‘22 (Director), and Abigail Choi ‘23 (Assistant Director). This picture was taken just before the bows after the end of the performance starts. (Yvonne Fong)

Stage Crew this year has been absolutely amazing, and we can all agree that we would do it all over again, except for the few miscommunications and hardships faced. Each meeting has brought many laughter and fond memories, such as one time when Neha and Uyanwatte conducted a rescue mission for Jimmy (a dummy that lives in the props room). “When we were working on Godspell and cleaning up the props room after S!NG had used it, Ms. Steiker asked [us] to throw him out. Although I respect her tremendously, I didn’t feel like I could throw out Jimmy. So one day, I walked into the props room and saw no one in there except for Emith, the lights director, and together, we tied up the dummy with duct tape to hide him somewhere in the props room,” said Neha. During this time, several members of Stage Crew went into the props room and could not stop laughing. Fong has also created a lot of memories, such as watching the show RWBY with the crew and having members of Stage Crew put their handprints on her jeans. Not only that, the memories made in the props room or the back of the auditorium have brought countless smiles to our faces. “The friends I’ve made in Stage Crew make it all worth it,” said Samten.

“The friends I’ve made in Stage Crew make it all worth it,” said Stage Manager Tenzin Samten ’24.