Behind the curtains of “Scoundrels”

“Alright, not bad, but it can still be better. Let’s run it again,” said Julianne O’Conner, the choreographer of the upcoming musical Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” that will open in the Casella Theater at Castleton State College on March 14. 

O’Conner walked to the stereo, pressed play on her iPod and the song “Oklahoma” started playing triggering the group of male dancers to start kicking and doing their best country dance.

A lot goes into putting on the shows each year at CSC and it all starts with Harry McEnerny, the director and chair of the Theater Department. He first chooses the play and then organizes the production team.

“Usually we have a reason for choosing the plays we do here. ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ doesn’t have a reason, it’s just fun,” said Angela Brande, costume designer for the show.

Once a play is chosen, there are production meetings to collaborate ideas between the different departments. This involves lights, set, costume, makeup and hair, the director, stage manager and countless other minute details to many to mention.

“The pallet for this show is a lot of bright colors,” said Brande as she displays her pallet of pinks, yellows, greens and blues for costume inspiration. “There are a lot of colors, but no purple. Steven Gross is using some purple in the lights so it will stand out.”

While there is a lot of technical work in these productions, the actors drive the show. Rehearsals most nights run from 6-9 p.m. and actors also deal with mandatory gym time. They’re also warm up for 30 minutes before dance rehearsals. Memorization and physical fitness is key.

“Physical strength and endurance are very important for breath support,” said O’Conner. ” It takes a lot to be able to sing and dance the way we do in this show.”

There are lifts, dips, kicks and fast paced music all throughout “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.” O’Conner even struggled keeping time with the song, “The More We Dance,” which performers say will be one of the highlights of the play with awesome light design and some saucy tango.

The rehearsals begin in the dance studio and then progress to the stage.

“The hardest part will be when we work with the band for the first time,” said Christopher Belanger, an actor in the show. “We rehearse dances with the recording first and we could be working with a different tempo than the band. There is a learning curve.”

With only a few weeks left before the show opens and with losing a week due to February vacation, it’s crunch time these days.

“I hate when people say ‘Oh, it will come together,'” said McEnerny. “It doesn’t just come together; it is put together with a lot of hard work and dedication.”


Dirty Rotten Scoundrels runs March 14-17 and March 22-24. Tickets are available in the Fine Arts Center Box Office.

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