Behind the scenes of LRCT’s ‘Cinderella’

By Leigh Macmillen Hayes
Special to the News

GREG HARRIS is busy building scenery for Lake Region Community Theater’s production of “Cinderella.”

Behind the scenes of every theatrical production are creative people whose vision and hard work often go unrecognized.

At Lake Region Community Theater, a couple of those people are Michelle Brenner and Greg Harris. Both found their way backstage through their children who enjoy performing on stage.

Michelle, a Discovery Toys Team Leader, creates costumes for the shows. She learned some of the tricks of her trade by working with seamstress Sara Larson of Altered Sewing, who made a few costumes for LRCT’s My Fair Lady a couple of years ago.

One of those tricks is to try not to make costumes from scratch. Michelle recycles former costumes and scouts out bargain outfits at Goodwill, Salvation Army and area thrift shops. But she uses more than just clothing — curtains, tablecloths, napkins, trim — anything that will embellish an outfit intrigues her.

“I’ll even use cuffs from one blouse and add them to another. I had to get over cutting things up,” she said.

Clothes hang everywhere in her workspace and it seems like her mind works overtime as she thinks about how she’ll use a little of this and a little of that.

“I’m learning as I go,” said Michelle.

Her daughter, Shannon, who is in the ensemble of Cinderella, helps in her free time.

MICHELLE BRENNER created all the beautiful costumes for the “Cinderella” cast.

The challenges include getting the sizes correct and being aware of the choreography so characters can move smoothly across the stage. Using a notebook with a page for each person, Michelle keeps track of what scenes they’ll appear in and whether or not they need a costume change.

While she is busy dreaming up costumes, Greg Harris, a jack-of-all-trades, saws and hammers away creating scenery for the play. He’s quick to credit Greg Watkins for teaching him the basics of set design.

“I tend to read the script over and over again,” said Greg H. about how he comes up with ideas for the set. “I can design on paper and get on stage and it doesn’t work so I have to adjust.”

He humbly explains that he’s still new at the design aspect. Former sets are recycled and Greg frequents the dump store scouring for items he can transform into just the right pieces of scenery.

His style is to focus on one thing at a time. He thinks of the overall likeness, bounces ideas off the director and producers, then figures out how he’ll build it and what he’ll use for materials. One practice that works well with the limited space at Deertrees Theatre is to turn a piece around and use the backside for another scene.

Occasionally, he discovers he has to make changes. Being flexible is the key to his job, but after raising five children, it’s a familiar concept. One of his children, Brian, who is a footman in the ensemble of Cinderella, helps Greg in his free time.

Other folks working behind the scenes include Mary Bastoni, director; George Wiese, musical director; Pam Collins-Stahle, choreographer; Mary Brown, props; and Janet ver Planck, Jyselle Watkins and Lew Krainin, producers.

You can see Lake Region Community Theatre’s rendition of Cinderella at Deertrees Theatre in Harrison on June 17-19 and 24-26. Friday and Saturday performances begin at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m.

Cinderella is presented by special arrangement with R&H Theatricals. Norway Savings Bank and Hancock Lumber are proud to be corporate sponsors of this show.

Tickets for the show are $15 per person and $12 for ages 12 and under. Tickets are available at Hayes True Value Hardware in Bridgton, Krainin Real Estate in Naples and Raymond, and Books N Things in Norway.

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