| 03.18.2018

No Christmas miracle – UI students work behind the scenes on “A Christmas Carol” Production


Putting on a theater production is no Christmas miracle.

“I think that the biggest misconception, the best misconception, is that it appears effortless,” said “A Christmas Carol” Director David Lee-Painter. “The audience can”t see the time and energy that went into it.”

This year”s production of “A Christmas Carol” began Thursday and will continue with showings at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and performances at 7:30 p.m. through the weekend. There are also performances scheduled for 2 p.m. Dec. 12-13, as well as 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12. The production will take place in the Hartung Theatre and is free for University of Idaho students.

Sound designer Keely Wright-Ogden is one of the people putting in time and energy for this year”s production. Wright-Ogden is a first year graduate student at UI and has been involved in theatre production since the 6th grade.

“I think that a lot of people believe that sound design is primarily just throwing on some sound effects and playing them over the speakers,” said Wright-Ogden.

Sound design has unique challenges. Wright-Ogden said that one of the most challenging things is to get the microphones to work with the actor”s voices and costumes. In this play, she said it”s difficult to find the right balance to where the audience can still hear well, but the characters still sound spooky.

Kira Hunter | Argonaut
Second-year grad student Michael Brandt works on the Face of Want as a scenic designer for the annual “A Christmas Carol” play, which opened Thursday.

To her, sound design is an art form. The creative liberty in sound design is Wright-Ogden”s favorite part of the job, she said.

“The excitement of exploring a text and finding ways that sound can be an asset and can be in its own way interesting and effective is one of the coolest parts,” she said.

“A Christmas Carol” is tradition for UI student Samantha Williamson. This will be the third year Williamson has either seen the production or been involved in it at UI.

“With every year, the thing that blows me away about this show is the sense of pure joy that everyone gets out of it,” Williamson said.

Williamson said she has worked in theatre production for six years. And as stage manager for this year”s production, come opening night, Williamson will be running the show.

She said her responsibilities include making sure everyone is where they need to be when they need to be there. With a 37-person cast and 10-member crew, she said it”s no small task.

“It”s a stressful job, but somehow I like it,” Williamson said.

Design meetings started in September, even before the rehearsal process, Williamson said. The cast puts in six rehearsals a week – each one about four hours, she said. The technical crew is there for all of them, sometimes even longer, she said.

No play is complete without a set and props, and this year that responsibility falls to Michael Brandt.

A second-year M.F.A. student, Brandt said he does a little of everything.

“I”m branded as more of, not a super specialist, but as a Swiss Army Knife kind of guy,” he said. Brandt works on props, scenery, puppets, scenic design and stage management behind the scenes, he said.

Brandt said audience members often do not realize how much time goes into making the physical aspects of a production. He said aspects that look easy to create take a monumental amount of time to design and build.

Besides the time, Brandt said there is still a strong appeal to working backstage.

“You get to dream up imaginary things and make them as real as you can,” Brandt said.

Carly Scott  can be reached  at arg-news@uidaho.edu

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