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James Clemens ‘techies’ create atmosphere for ‘Matilda the Musical’

MADISON – Long before the curtain opened for “Matilda the Musical” and actors took their cues, a behind-the-scenes group of designers, carpenters and construction workers known as the technical crew or ‘techies’ were crafting the show’s atmosphere at James Clemens High School.

“Creating the tech (technical staging) for ‘Matilda’ has been rather challenging over the last 1.5 years. (Many) student technical leaders graduated and were therefore unavailable for this year’s production,” Technical Director Clint Merritt said. Merritt teaches technical theatre at James Clemens.

In addition, Merritt and Director Amy Patel didn’t know until mid-January if the company with production rights would allow an indoor, live performance. “The entire year we forged ahead as if we would be allowed to do a show with the hopes that something would pan out. We’ve now had three different semesters worth of students working on this show in various capacities,” Merritt said.

“Our student leadership team wasn’t announced until January, because we had to see who would still be in advanced technical theatre class,” he said. “Our tech crew also was negatively affected by (many) quarantines. Weeks before the show opened, we lost an entire one-third of our advanced technical theatre class for a full two weeks.”

“The silver lining has been that we’ve been afforded a lot longer to work on the show and focus on details we haven’t been able to focus on in the past. We open (March 4) but only started seeing full run-throughs (in mid-February) because of our hybrid schedule and other obstacles we’ve overcome,” Merritt said.

“Overall, we’re excited to finally produce this show. It feels like we’ve been working on it for years and years, and we’re ready to share it with the community,” Merritt said.

Tech crew includes Stage Manager Bryson Hewell, Student Tech Director Becca Beech, Lighting Crew Chief Libby Harwell and Assistant Chief Collin Cruzen, Set Crew Chief Andrew Williams and Assistant Chief Kaitie Wayne, Sound Crew Chief Kepler Wedgeworth and Assistant Chief Lauren Ratliff, Costume Crew Chief Emma Goodwin, Makeup Crew Chief Madison McCleskey and Props Crew Chief Caroline Frazier.

Harris Gessner is Musical Director. Newt Johnson is conducting the pit band.

The show opens on March 4 and runs through March 6, with nightly shows at 7 p.m. and a 2 p.m. matinee on March 6.

Student tickets are $11. Tickets for adults are $16.50. To buy tickets, visit Facebook/James Clemens Theatre. For COVID-19 restrictions, only 200 tickets will be available for each show.

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