Students from The University of Alabama’s department of theatre and dance will bring to life “The Philadelphia Story” with opening night slated for Valentine’s Day.
Set in 1930s Philadelphia, the romantic comedy follows the privileged daughter of the Lord family who created quite the scandal, divorcing her husband and arranging to remarry. While theatergoers will get to know the characters being portrayed on stage, we’d like to take you behind-the-scenes for a deeper look into the students who helped bring the story to life.
Christopher Spencer, Sound Designer
Technical Theater major
Q: How did you get into theater?
A: I’ve always been interested in what goes on to create the worlds we see on stage, in film and in live attractions. As a kid, I always wanted to figure out what made things tick, whether it was with actual objects or with rides at Disney World. The science, engineering and art behind everything around us, even the seemingly everyday things, is fascinating to me. When I was a freshman at UA, I was still undecided fully about my major. After a conversation with Bill Teague, our department chair, I decided the best way to combine my many interests was to pursue a career in technical theater design.
Q: What would you like to do after graduation?
A: My dream is to work with Walt Disney Imagineering, helping create the three-dimensional stories that people are able to experience not just through the lens of a stage.
Q: What skills do you learn while participating in the varied productions and how do those skills help prepare you for your future career goals?
A: Along with the obvious hands-on technical experience, we learn a lot about teamwork and time management. At UA, our deadlines are fairly tight and we are always in production year-round. Even in May, we are working on the professional production for SummerTide Theatre in Gulf Shores. So, the professional development aspects of working as a designer here are honestly the most valuable to me.
Q: At the end of this production, how many hours would you have spent working on it?
A: I work about 15 hours a week on a production as a designer, in addition to my main course load. With my involvement lasting about eight weeks total, then adding technical rehearsal where we spend five hours in rehearsal nightly for one week, it’s probably around 140 hours.
Q: Of all the productions you have been a part of, what was your favorite and why?
A: I’d say my favorite so far at UA has to be “Boeing Boeing” last spring. It was just so fun to see everyone leave the theater still rolling in laughter, night after night. It also provided some interesting challenges, because I was working in my primary focus area at the time, lighting. The idea was how to make a set look as if it was in technicolor, like “I Dream Of Jeannie.” It was a lot of fun.
“The Philadelphia Story” runs Feb. 14-18 with a 7:30 p.m. showtime and a 2:30 p.m. matinee on Feb. 19 at the Marian Gallaway Theatre. For more info, visit https://theatre.ua.edu/productions/the-philadelphia-story/.
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.