Written by Sophie Thibodeaux and Emma Jones // Photo by Balazs Balassa
The Benson Auditorium stage layout for the 2023 Spring Sing show, “Stand Out,” has been designed and constructed by the theatre building crew to represent Theatre Department Chair Steven Frye’s vision for the show and follow this year’s theme.
The stage consists of three circular, elevated platforms with one on the left, one in the center and one on the right. Four total sets of stairs sit in between the platforms, with the jazz band section seated directly behind. The stage is painted red, and the backboards behind are painted blue and yellow in a striped pattern.
Assistant professor of theatre Benjamin Jones, who has been working with Frye on Spring Sing for the last 15 years, said they collaborate on the creative process behind designing the stage and the experience of putting their ideas into reality. Jones said since Frye was in charge of putting all the elements together and making sure they fit, they would discuss Frye’s vision for the show and Jones would bring him ideas and drawings for the sets.
“We’d go back and forth with adjustments until we [came] up with something that was going to work,” Jones said. “… We’ve kind of come up with sort of what it takes in order to put it together, and we just try to make it different every year so that it’s unique.”
Technical director of theatre Seth Fish said the mass construction size is always the biggest challenge in creating the set because it has to safely support hundreds of people.
“This is almost 50 feet wide, 30 feet deep, and we have hundreds of people running up it,” Fish said. “And doing the details, getting to the point where we can really patch it up and make it look seamless … is the fun part when we get to do that and the transformation that goes with painting.”
Fish said his crew has only around five weeks to construct the stage and install it, and that one of the more difficult aspects is coordinating with other groups installing audio, lights or screens, and giving the jazz band and Spring Sing shows time to practice on it.
Senior Mollie Jarnagin is one of the Spring Sing directors for women’s social club Ko Jo Kai, and was in charge of choreographing their show, “S.O.S. (Save Our Shack!),” which is performed with women’s social club Ju Go Ju and men’s social clubs Sub-T 16 and Titans. Jarnagin said the unique structure of the stage this year made it difficult to choreograph dances around.
“For many of us who have been involved in Spring Sing for multiple years, it [is] unlike anything we [have] performed on before,” Jarnagin said. “From an audience perspective, I think it will be very complementary to each show. The platforms provide a good way to showcase different props and set pieces so that everyone can see them.”