Behind the Scenes – Season 2 – Episode 1 – ‘Queens’

Gabe Torres, Lauren Grammer, Marissa Denman discuss American High School Theatre Festival trip

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Surrounded by his queens including alumna Jessie Kuhn, seniors Lauren Grammer, Mikayla Sexton, and Marissa Denman, juniors Anna Stringer, and Riley Quinonez, and sophomore Mary Freitas, senior Tate Lauby portrays dream King Henry VIII while sitting in the show’s lone set piece, a throne. The theatre department traveled to Scotland and England this summer for the International Fringe Theater Festival with the American High School Theater Festival. “We had to go for a more minimalist design with the set because transporting a large set is not realistic,” senior Lauren Grammer said. “We had a couple props and other things that were put into people’s carry ons. I would say that was a (from other shows).”

Reading Time: 7 minutes

During this episode of Behind the Scenes, host Cate Emma Warren discusses the Prosper Theatre Fringe show ‘Queens’. This podcast features interviews from two of the cast members: Lauren Grammer and Marissa Denman, as well as stage manager Gabe Torres.

Taking a book from her hands, dream King Henry VIII, played by senior Tate Lauby, scolds Catherine Parr, played by senior Marissa Denman, for trying to relay her own ideas for their government. Denman was also in last year’s theatre productions of ‘Lion King Jr.’, ‘The Crucible’, and ‘Godspell’. “Once we got to London we were there for 4 days,” Denman said. “We toured parts of the city. We walked around and got to do a lot of sightseeing. And we saw two castles (in Scotland).” (Cate Emma Warren)
Cate Emma Warren hosts Behind the Scenes to highlight the company members and the process of creating upcoming productions in the Theatre Department. (Cate Emma Warren)

Topics Covered: 

Prosper Theatre

Queens’ by Kristen Doherty

Music used via Youtube:

Music by MBB | https://soundcloud.com/mbbofficial https://www.youtube.com/c/mbbmusic https://www.instagram.com/mbb_music

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Transcript: 

CATE EMMA: Hi! My name is Cate Emma Warren. Welcome to Behind the Scenes where I take a deeper look into the inner working of plays, productions, and more. In this episode, I will be continuing the discussion about the Prosper Theatre Fringe show, Queens. These thespians traveled with their cast, crewmates, and directors to England and Scotland to compete and perform at the American High School Theatre Festival. I got to speak with Gabe Torres, Lauren Grammer, and Marissa Denman. These three told me about their journey over 4,000 miles away while also discussing their thoughts on the behind the scenes process.

Hi! How are you doing?

GABE: Good

LAUREN: We’re great. Got lots of practice in.

MARISSA: Yeah! 

CATE EMMA: Second time’s a charm. Can y’all introduce yourselves?

LAUREN: I’m Lauren.

GABE: I’m Gabe.

MARISSA: I’m Marissa. 

CATE EMMA: Can you tell me about the Fringe festival and how this is different from other productions?

LAUREN: One of the biggest differences for sure is that we had to go for a more minimalist design for the set because obviously we were flying really far. Transporting a large set is just not realistic so for this show we only had one set piece and it was a throne. We also had props and other things that were put in people’s carry ons. I would say that is the biggest difference because normally we go all out with the set, I mean we all remember Lion King. 

MARISSA: Yeah. 

LAUREN: But, yeah this is a much more kind of, not casual but like it was very much less-

CATE EMMA: Extra?

LAUREN: Yeah, it was like less is more king of. I think it really worked for the premise of the show. That was the biggest thing I think for sure. 

CATE EMMA: Didn’t you have an issue with the throne while you were there?

LAUREN: Yes! We got all the way over there and the throne that they had, that we found over there (that they had given us) this like a little wicker chair

GABE: A dining chair. 

LAUREN: Yeah. Which is not sturdy enough unfortunately for what we needed for the show. So we ended up having to build it out of their like ‘gray matter.’ Which is like wooden building blocks that we use for the UIL set. Yeah it was definitely a wild ride but it all worked out in the end.

CATE EMMA: Can you tell me a little bit about England and Scotland? What sites did you get to see?

MARISSA: Oh it was so cool. The flight over there was a minute

LAUREN: tedious for sure.

MARISSA: but once we got there it was amazing. Once we got to London we were there for four or five days?

LAUREN: Four days. Yeah. 

MARISSA: And we toured parts of the city. We walked around, we got to see a lot of stuff, a lot of sightseeing and then drove up to Scotland. 

LAUREN: Eight hours on a bus.

MARISSA: So much fun! And we saw two castles, we saw Stirling Castle, and the castle Edinburgh.

LAUREN: Yeah and we saw the Tower of London too. You know it’s like a fortress, maybe it was a castle? I don’t really know if it looked like a castle. But it was like a lot of little castles smashed together. We saw some shows too. Richard the Third at the Shakespeare Company. We saw Phantom of the Opera and then some of us rushed tickets to Les Mis like day of so that was really cool to see and the West End shows and to get to look at the professional productions.

CATE EMMA: Can you tell me a bit about rehearsals while you were there? And were you on one stage the whole time or like a different one every night?

GABE: Yeah, we had different, we had set rehearsal days where we were there for only an hour. Most of that involved us doing on top of tech run, just like one from cue to cue because obviously we can’t run the whole show in an hour. It’s longer than that. So we really hit like the main parts of the show that we really needed to practice. For some of it we were actually at our dorm place like in the basement area practicing. And yeah, we performed in the same place all four times. It was like this little black box there on stage, but it wasn’t like a black box where it’s like all around it was like everybody sat in the front.

LAUREN: Yeah, there was a stage, it was one venue though. And we moved in the first day, where we like unloaded all of our stuff. We had one official tech rehearsal that was like an hour long the day before we performed and we went there like in costume did the cue to cue like ran all the tech, set up the lights, fixed our set. And then that was kind of it for like official rehearsal time in the space we were performing in but we did a lot of outside rehearsals. I know in London we were on like literally the sidewalk outside of our hotel with like people walking by and we ran the show. It was like a two hour rehearsal or something. Also in Scotland in those dorms we were down in the basement. The night before a couple of times just cleaning stuff up and blocking everything. I mean, we rehearsed, you always rehearse, you got to keep sharp you know.

CATE EMMA: So when you say dorms did you get to stay at a university or something? Where did y’all stay?  

GABE: In Edinburg we did stay at dorms. In like a college, a community college?

LAUREN: It was at the University of Edinburgh. I have a shirt on that I bought at the school store. And I think in London, there were dorms too. They were like I think they were little dorms. They were like-

MARISSA: Yeah, it was. They are like hotels during the summertime. That’s what they were saying when we got there. Our dorms where on one side and I don’t know what school it was connected to the school. 

LAUREN: The Scottish quarters were definitely nicer for sure. I think we were all more comfortable there but –

CATE EMMA: For that bus ride it better be. 

LAUREN: Oh my gosh It was. The bus ride was long and we were packed in there too. It was a lot but worth it for sure. We saw about 4,000 sheep on that bus ride on the way up there. 

CATE EMMA: So can you tell me a little bit about your characters?

MARISSA: Oh, yeah. I played Catherine Parr. She was Henry the VII’s final wife. She outlived him and ended up getting back together with her like old lover who she liked more. No tea, no shade

LAUREN: Tea and shade. I think. 

MARISSA: And then she had a daughter who sadly passed away before she could see her child to grow up. We won’t get into that. That’s-

LAUREN: It’s a little depressing. 

MARISSA: Yeah.

LAUREN: You’ll find most of his wife’s stories are kind of depressing. I played Anne Boleyn. I’m Lauren by the way. I played Anne Boleyn and I think we all kind of know what happens to her. She obviously has a less than delightful end. She was his, she was a Henry’s second wife and he like created the Church of England and like broke with the Roman church to marry, like divorce his first wife and be with her so it she obviously kind of she prompted a pretty big change for England. But it didn’t really work out for her but she had Elizabeth the I was her daughter. She’s pretty popular in the end, but she got beheaded. So I mean, say what you will about whether it was worth it or not.

CATE EMMA: What can we expect from the department this year? 

MARISSA: Oh, well, there’s plenty of stuff coming up. Like for example, the fall shows so we have a Les Mis and Clue, which auditions are next week?

LAUREN: Yes. As at the time that this is being filmed. Yeah their next week and open call. So join in on all the fun you should audition for one of the fall shows. And then we have musical theatre cabaret in October. We have an improv show in October and another improv show in January. And then the spring shows are Puffs and SpongeBob the musical which is just as fun as it sounds. Yeah, we’ve got a pretty busy year. We’ve got ITS in November. So I know we’re all going to be kind of starting to prep our auditions or not just college auditions for the upperclassmen, but competition pieces for that as well. 

CATE EMMA: Any final thoughts you’d like to add? 

LAUREN: I just know that I think we were all very grateful to be presented with this opportunity to travel internationally and premiere this show not just in Europe, but also we were the American premiere as well. So this is obviously a very unique and special opportunity and it was so worth it. And so just it gave us so much learning experience, and we kind of got to see how our professional productions work. I think it was totally worth it, and I think it’s a really enriching experience overall. 

MARISSA: Definitely. And building off of that, what’s to come, everything that’s going on this year. There’s so much to do. It’s super exciting. 

LAUREN: It’s a busy year over here, for sure. 

GABE: And if you’re interested in auditioning for Les Mis, I think it’s open to everybody in the school, so you should definitely come to that. 

CATE EMMA: Sign ups are filling up fast.

LAUREN: That’s true. So if you want to sign up there are flyers posted up around the school. I think with the Les Mis audition information, 

CATE EMMA: Literally everywhere.

LAUREN: I would highly recommend joining in on the fun. Grab your spot, grab your audition spot and sign up. It will be fun.

CATE EMMA: Well thank you so much for talking to me today. Hopefully we will get to see some of you listeners in the future at performances. 

Thank you for listening to the first episode of Behind the Scenes. Stay tuned for more episodes on the upcoming school year and productions. For more information on the theatre department visit prospertheatre.com and more information about ENO visit eaglenationonline.com