Old stage, new floor

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By Shrija Krishnan, Staff Reporter Senior Ilena Mita, like the rest of this year’s spring musical’s cast, had prepared for this moment for the past two months. Mita, who played Countess Lily in “Anastasia,” readied herself to close the number “Land of Yesterday” as usual with a showstopping split. The only difference was that this...

By Shrija Krishnan, Staff Reporter

Senior Ilena Mita, like the rest of this year’s spring musical’s cast, had prepared for this moment for the past two months. Mita, who played Countess Lily in “Anastasia,” readied herself to close the number “Land of Yesterday” as usual with a showstopping split. The only difference was that this time, along with the onlookers’ roaring applause, Mita received a piece of wood embedded in her knee–a result of having landed weirdly on the stage. 

According to Mita, stories of similar injuries resulting from the stage’s previously worn out condition are not uncommon. Conestoga’s stage hadn’t been renovated since 1955, the same year the school was first built. Given the auditorium’s age, the stage’s old wood was splintered, beaten up and peeled off from years of plastering tape across the stage’s surface and countless actors walking around with heels and character shoes. Fortunately, future actors won’t have these same complications as the stage was renovated in mid-March..

“The renovations are a fabulous improvement to the stage. It’s much safer for people to dance on — especially in bare feet if they’re doing some kind of breakdancing or something where they don’t get splinters in their back or hands. That was the main reason to have it done: for safety,” stage crew adviser Mike Starner said.

Starner, like other music department faculty members, had long advocated for improvements to the stage, and has expressed his approval over the current modifications. The stage renovation process involved covering its existing structure with big, flat, 4 feet by eight feet sheets of hardboard and Masonite which were later painted black, enhancing the stage’s uniformity and increasing its visual appeal. Starner feels that covering the stage with sheets of Masonite and hardboard is particularly advantageous, given that if one were to be damaged, the sheet could be taken out and replaced without having to resurface the entire stage. 

Both cast and crew members of “Anastasia” expressed their excitement over the stage’s refurbishment, noting that the renovations will ease the workload for all members of the musical. Senior and stage crew member Amanda Hess recalls having to tape splintered areas of the stage with gaff tape on several occasions. While holding  the wood together with tape was certainly a sign of apprehension for Hess, it was the drilling of a hole into the stage for the musical’s car scene which really convinced her of the need for a new stage floor.

“We (the stage crew) are very excited about the renovations. We’re very much looking forward to a new, cleaner and smoother surface so it will be a lot easier to move things on the deck during the plays and musicals. It’ll just make things a lot easier for musical and stage crew members,” Hess said.

While there were ways for the cast and crew to work around the stage conditions, safety remained a persistent issue on many people’s minds. Mita further notes that while there were some injuries from the stage’s previous condition, they were often minor and not exceedingly frequent. 

“I think that this is a great example of how Conestoga is such a vast place with so many people doing so many things,” Mita said. “It’s definitely a conundrum when so many facilities are present, which is what makes our school so great, (but) those facilities need to be maintained as well.”


Shrija Krishnan can be reached at [email protected]

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