Behind the Scenes of The Wizard of Oz

It’s no secret that musical productions require a lot of hard work and a great team effort, but the team that works behind the scenes is often not seen and recognized. The crew backstage puts in a lot of work to make the magic onstage happen. The pit out front spends countless hours practicing pieces of music to accompany the show.

These voices, efforts, and stories should finally be recognized. Drama club is full of talented, hardworking individuals not only in the spotlight but backstage as well. Take a moment and meet some of the people who bring the shows to life.

Chris Karavas: Backstage Manager

Backstage manager (BSM) Chris Karavas is participating in his second year of musical shows. Karavas has been a crew member for the productions Clue, 42nd Street, Girls In the Boat, and now The Wizard of Oz.

Karavas describes his role as “knowing the choreography for the set pieces and to be a leader backstage. I enjoy being BSM for the leadership roles I get to handle.”

With many intricate set changes and transitions, it is crucial to have a strong, dedicated leader who is able to problem-solve quickly and direct as needed.

Unfortunately, the hard work, thinking, and planning that occurs backstage in order to move the show along are not noticed by those in the audience. “I feel like the crew, especially backstage, gets none of the recognition, especially for the amount of work and stress we go through.”

The backstage crew began working alongside the cast in late January in preparation for the shows in early March.

“I wish the audience knew what most of the backstage crew has to do during shows and the amount of time we have to put into it,” he said.

While in his final year of being a member and leader of the stage crew, Karavas explains how he is looking forward to the feeling of accomplishment when the curtain drops at the end of a long weekend. The success will make up for the challenges he has overcome during this journey.

Carly Spinna: Pit Orchestra Director


Pit Orchestra director Carly Spinna is a new and vital addition to the pit this year. Spinna is a graduate of Millersville University and is brand new to the district primarily teaching fourth, fifth, and sixth graders.

“I always loved putting on shows at my high school, Downingtown East, and I wanted to be able to give the students at KD the same wonderful experience that I got to have when I was their age. I also want to be a positive influence on the high schoolers and show them the many careers in music, theater, and art they can pursue after graduation.”

Spinna spent many years as a member of the pit during her high school and college career in shows such as The Little Mermaid, Schoolhouse Rock: Live!, and The Sister Act.

This is her first year, though, as the director who is in charge of conducting and rehearsing with the musicians in the pit.

The pit is located in front of the stage and is responsible for playing music to accompany the actors as they move through various scenes; the pit works closely with the cast as they depend on each other.

Spinna said, “The cast is a wonderful group of kids and they remind me almost daily how wonderful we are doing as a pit. I appreciate them so much, and they work so hard!”

Being the pit director isn’t always easy, especially if it is your first experience with it. “The biggest challenge for me is understanding that this is my first year and that I will mess up or make a mistake now and then. I tend to be hard on myself, but I have to keep in mind that I’m not going to be perfect at the job, especially being right out of college. I can’t compare myself to other directors who have many more years of experience than I do.”

Kate Tarbert: Body Microphones

Technology crew member Kate Tarbert is one of two people in charge of body microphones; her job is to put microphones on actors and keep up with their maintenance during performances.

This is Tarbert’s second year being involved with the crew; she has been a part of 42nd Street, Girls in the Boat, and The Wizard of Oz.

Tarbert said how much she enjoys being behind the scenes and getting to know the actors. She also noted the job is stressful, but the little moments such as having all the microphones on and at full battery are rewarding.

Like Karavas, Tarbert wants the audience to know there’s a lot of work behind the scenes.

“It takes a lot of work and coordination behind the scenes to even make one act or song happen. And that everyone gets a role, no matter who because we need all the help.”

She explained that she often has to jump in and help others backstage wherever needed and the constant movement can be confusing.

Other obstacles include the fact that this show has children. Microphones are very expensive, and children are less careful with them. They roll around on them, they pull on them, etc.

When asked what she is looking forward to most, Tarbert said, “Seeing all of my friends in their roles and a lot of them doing their senior shows. Also, seeing how all the people involved come together at the last moment to make this work even if it seems like it’s not going to.”

Tarbert explains how there is a clear difference between the recognition cast gets in comparison to the stage crew, “Cast gets a lot of recognition because they are on stage and are the ones in the pretty costumes and get all the congratulations in the lobby. Yes, we did sign up to be in the background, but it’s still nice to have a bow and be on stage and be acknowledged.”

Isabella Portello: Pit Member

Isabella Portello is an auxiliary percussion member of the Pit Orchestra. She has been a member for two years participating in 42nd Street and now The Wizard of Oz and enjoys being a part of a fun experience learning new music and furthering her hobby.

This year, Portello is looking forward to seeing how the show comes together.

When asked what she wishes the audience knew, Portello said, “I wish they knew how hard it is to be able to do what the actors do and what crew does and what pit does. It takes a lot of effort and mistakes happen, but these people put a lot of work into the show.”

The pit began preparation for the performance with Spinna toward the beginning of January and also took time at home to practice.

A challenge for the pit this year, is the limited space since the instrumentalist are enclosed in the front of the stage. Portello said, “The crew didn’t measure anything leaving no space for the pit equipment so some of my parts had to be cut.”

Even though at the end of the show the cast bows and then gestures to the pit and the crew, the recognition and appreciation aren’t the same. “We put in just as much hard work as they do, but I understand they are the actors and we wouldn’t have a show without the actors,” Portello said.

Even though their efforts are often behind the scenes, and their entire purpose is to be unnoticed, there would be no magic without them. Remember this when you enjoy the musicals and other performances in your life.