‘Color your world’ lights up campus

Felicia Hyde, Arts & Entertainment Editor

The tearing of tape echoed in the background. The switches of light and sound boards clicked into place. Flashes of red, yellow and orange light warmed the stage. 

Hurried footsteps paced back and forth across the stage as crew members rehearsed “Color Your World: A Children’s Musical.” The student-led production team previewed the musical last Friday. 

The production team, filled with faculty and students from SF State’s School of Theatre and Dance, worked through late-night weekly practices, managing sound and lighting boards with complex costume changes and technical rehearsals. Production began a week before the semester with full-day music rehearsals.

Jasmine Ashfar (left) and Tea Alexander (right) are assisted by a stage crew member before the rehearsal of Color Your World in the Little Theater on Oct. 9th, 2019. (Photo by Paige Acosta / Golden Gate Xpress)

“The cast is wonderful and have dedicated themselves to this project,” said Terry Amara Boero, SF State lecturer, director and scriptwriter of the new musical. “We’ve been spending some long nights in the theatre teaching the show with student designers for lighting and costumes.”

Boero teaches playwriting, theatre management and acting. She directed the play, “Mojada: A Medea In Los Angeles” last fall along with staged readings and workshops for the new series called “The Fringe.”

Musical Composer Christian Cantrell, a junior studying theatre with an emphasis in musical theatre, wrote the music and lyrics of the musical, focusing on living life with splashes of color instead of ordinary tones of black and white. Cantrell said he became involved after hearing Boera’s vision to bring theatre to children in San Francisco.

“We have to inspire the next generation of theatrical artists, because if we don’t, our form will die out,” Cantrell said.

The plot revolves around two main characters, Natalia and Gigi, and nine colors that represent emotions. Together they learn how to become more positive on an everyday scale. 

“This isn’t a musical for just children. It’s a musical for everyone, the messages echo through our daily lives; work together, keep a happy thought, be brave,” Boero said. 

The collaborative work between Cantrell and Boero consisted of weekly meetings with non-stop edits. 

“We picked colors and discussed their personalities and how they would interact and at one point another color showed up unannounced and demanded she be included.” Boero said. “It was a happy surprise for both Christian and I.”

Strong visuals allow the story’s message to unfold through changes in light. Colors are used in the musical to express emotion, thoughts and the changing perceptions of life. The lighting designer, Charlie Mejia, a sophomore majoring in theatre arts with an emphasis in technical theatre, designed the lighting look for the show. He used colored gels to show the shift in emotions of the characters. 

“This is all important because the lights help tell the story of ‘Color Your World,’” Mejia said. “When Natalia is upset, the lighting is dull, but still beautiful and when she uses her imagination, the lighting is magical.” 

Students operate every piece of equipment and fulfill roles that make the musical ready for its final debut. They also run the front of the house and staff the Family Room, where children who can’t sit through the performance have a place to stretch and play.

In order for the theatrical performance to be the best it can, plenty of preparation is involved such as checking the lighting, sound and microphone checks and logistical tasks audiences aren’t aware of.

“I got involved as a soundboard operator here at state because I enjoyed doing it in the past and saw a need in the program for a consistent sound op,” said Camille Rassweiler, a sophomore theatre major with a focus in technical design. Rassweiler will also work on the sound design for “Ghost Sonata” which premieres in November. 

Although it is a theatrical production, it is sometimes hard to remember that students take the time to be involved in department projects voluntarily or to fulfill a requirement for class. 

“Long nights are unavoidable so to do this job you need a lot of patience and tasks to do on your downtime,” said Ariel Webb, a junior majoring in dance. “We are required to be there for a specific amount of hours to pass the class. Working this show is stressful because we have to be at school really late and still make it to our morning classes the next day.”

Webb is enrolled in Theatre Arts 217: Production Run Crew for Live Performance class in which she was required to choose to be part of a production at SF State by helping with costumes, microphones and running, fixing or organizing the set. 

Without the students who run lights, sound, handle microphones, set up props and stage equipment, the production would not be able to function as the colorful musical it was meant to be. 

“Putting up an original musical is very difficult. But the stage management team, and all the designers have been great to work with,” Cantrell said. “Countless hours have gone into not only writing but designing and managing the show. It’s good to see it hopefully pay off the next few weekends.”

The Color Your World musical will be running from Oct. 11 – 19 in SF State’s Creative Arts building inside the Little Theatre.