The online home of the Central Focus

The online home of the Central Focus

The online home of the Central Focus

A Deep Dive

A deep dive into the efforts of the Spotlight Players during their spring musical
Kaitlyn Morgan
Junior Connor Becker sings out to the audience during the opening number of “Big Fish”. He ended the opening number with the ensemble supporting his final note.


Junior Connor Becker steps out into the bright stage lights. There is a singular spotlight on him, leaving the rest of the theatre in complete darkness. He looks out onto the audience, taking a dramatic pause before he delivers his first lines in The Spotlight Players’ spring musical, “Big Fish”. Right before he speaks, he looks past the darkness that surrounds the audience into the booth. He makes eye contact with senior Co-Tech Director/ Lights and Sound Crew Head, Grace Wakelam. Together, they share a slight nod and begin the show that has consumed their lives for the past three months. 

Becker, who was the lead in Big Fish, explains how he tackles the huge task of memorizing his large amount of lines, in order to be completely confident in his lines by the time he reaches show week. 

 “I think [I had] 220 something [lines]. I put them into a Quizlet and lock myself in my basement until I have them memorized,” Becker said. 

Wakelam, who was co-tech director/ lights and sound crew head, shares what her responsibilities during show nights are. 

“As co-tech director/lights crew head, I keep in touch with my other tech director during the show. If she needs something backstage I’m here to help. For lights and sound, I help do mics, so I call [out who’s coming on stage and tell the booth to turn their mic on]. And for lighting, I make sure that it’s the right cue. If we get stuck on something, I can lead the way and help my stage manager and crew through it,” Wakelam said. 

Senior Haley Ehle, the other co-tech director/ set crew head for “Big Fish”, details her role during show nights. 

“During the show, I’m in charge of everything backstage. I am in charge of running props, costumes, quick changes, and just [overall] making sure that everything runs smoothly. And mainly making sure that if the set breaks, it gets fixed quickly and that if any problems happen, I can fix them as soon as possible,” Ehle said. 

There is a ton of preparation and rehearsing that has to go into the show before the Spotlight Players reach show week. Tech week, or ‘Hell Week’ as many theatre kids affectionately call it, is the week before the show opens. This week is infamous for being extremely hard on theatre kids, due to rehearsals being especially grueling, and anywhere from 6-8 hours long.

“There’s a good word to describe tech week that I can’t say! Tech can be frustrating and really difficult. [At times] people go at each other [when something isn’t going right]. It can be hard to keep yourself focused because you just want to yell and tell people to calm down. It can be [hard] sometimes just having to direct so many people,” Wakelam said. 

Ehle agrees that since tech week is the first week all aspects of the show come together, the week can be extremely trying. 

“[Tech week] was extremely stressful, especially with having to [leave halfway through or take a trip to New York with choir]. I was trying to figure out how to do everything backstage and make sure everything was planned accordingly. It’s a very big job making sure everything’s in its place. I pulled a lot of my peers to help me out so I wasn’t doing everything by myself,” Ehle said. 

Despite the hardships that theatre kids face during tech week, the positives outweigh the negatives for Becker. He explains the lessons he has learned from diving into his character, Edward Bloom, and why he has enjoyed getting to embody Ed on stage. 

“Ed has a great view of life where he realizes that your life is through your perspective. You can spin these tails to really enjoy your entire life. It’s a good way to look at things and there’s a lot to learn from it,” Becker said. 

Wakelam also ultimately enjoys the work she puts into the show and details what she is looking forward to for opening night. 

“I’m excited [for the show]! I think it’s a surreal moment, my last opening [show as a senior] and I just want to take it in. I want to enjoy the last three nights and have fun with the people I’ve grown with for the past four years,” Wakelam said. 

Clearly, the hard work The Spotlight players have put into Big Fish leads to a lot of anticipation and excitement for show nights. 

“I think [the second show] is gonna go better than our first night. We have all of our kinks ironed out and now we know what can go wrong. And I think it boosted our confidence because the stuff that did go wrong [during opening night] we fixed easily, so now it feels like there’s nothing that will go wrong that we won’t be able to fix,” Ehle said. 

Then, Becker shines a light on how many actors feel before a show. 

“I mean obviously there’s a part of me that’s nervous, but I think those nerves are gonna go away once I get on stage because I don’t have time to think once I get on stage. But I’m really excited, I think it’s gonna be a good show and people are gonna enjoy it,” Becker said. 

Wakelam reflects on how she believes crew/techies have tremendously impacted the show, even if many individuals may not recognize that.

“Everything you see [in the show] was because of us. The set moves because of us, the actors have costumes because of us, the props you see are there because of us,” Wakelam said. 

Ehle summarizes how even though the actors are more visible on stage, the efforts of the crew backstage is what makes the show come together. 

“Techies are the reason we have shows. Actors can go on stage and talk all they want, but it won’t be as cool of an experience without all the technical aspects. The scenes that [people] remember the most are usually the ones with the big explosions and the lights and set moving around, or all the quick changes. And that’s all us, so it’s very important that we’re here,” Ehle said. 

Ehle and Wakelam both agree that the show would not have happened without the efforts of those backstage and Becker decided to acknowledge this thought. Once the show had concluded, he stepped out in front of all of cast and was the last one to take a bow because he was the lead. After he takes his bow, while the audience is still roaring with applause, he decides to gesture up to Wakelam and the rest of the crew up in the booth. He holds his arm in the air, giving the audience time to applaud the techies’ hard work as well. He smiles up at her knowing that together, they had just beautifully completed the show that had consumed their lives for the past 3 months. 



The lights dim, faint music stretches across the room, and  a blue hue illuminates the stage and walls of the auditorium. Faint figures scurry their way onto the scene, constructing the set before the bright lights reignite and converge upon the stage. The audience sits in anticipation, waiting for the first musical number to unfold before their eyes. The uncompromising dedication of a tight-knit group of students have made this all possible, with senior Hayden Ott taking part.

“Leading up to each performance, I see people working very hard to push through serious struggles in order to put on the best show we possibly can,” Ott said.

Many difficulties were encountered in the preparations for the musical, yet the perseverance of The Spotlight Players ensured these hurdles were overcome. By relying upon others strengths and abilities, the challenges and complications of piecing together performances only served to strengthen their resolve. The shared sense of comradery amongst them helped create many close friendships and invaluable connections. Senior Zane Stephens articulates the impact these individuals have had on him, and how important these friendships can be.

“By being involved in The Spotlight Players, I have met so many amazing people that I love with all my heart, they are like my second family and I wouldn’t trade them for anything,” Stephens said.

The interconnectedness of the program, complemented by the unwavering commitment and tireless effort of both its actors and crew, resulted in three very successful performances of Big Fish. The energy surging through the auditorium represented a special connection amongst the community and our spotlight players.  

“The audience seemed to respond really well to our performances! They laughed when there were jokes, we got some genuine tears when there was a tragedy, and, not to pat myself on the back, gasped when I, as the giant, towered over the cast and audience alike,” Ott said. 

The students, educators, and parents of the FHC community are lucky to have such passion-filled and ambitious plays and musicals being performed in our very own auditorium. 

“I believe the FHC Spotlight Players have had a strong positive impact on our school’s community, because we bring people of all kinds together to work together on one magnificent final product, and bring even more people together to witness it,” Ott said.

With so much excitement surrounding our spotlight players, some students may be considering taking a chance on the program by joining a future production. If you are one of those people, Zane has something to share with you. 

“My advice for future Spotlight Players is to be big and be powerful. Don’t be afraid to be too big and bold,” Stephens said.


Leave a Comment
Donate to
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Francis Howell Central High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs. and our subsequent publications are dedicated to the students by the students. We hope you consider donating to allow us to continue our mission of a connected and well-informed student body.

More to Discover
Donate to
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *