STEM brings magic and awe of 'Finding Neverland' to life

December 08, 2017 06:56 PM

SCHENECTADY - We go to the theater for the magic of what's created on the stage. Sometimes, it's fun to look behind the curtain and see how that magic is created.

NewsChannel 13’s Benita Zahn went to Proctors Theatre, where "Finding Neverland" is playing through Sunday. She learned to dust the stage with fairy dust, you need an education in STEM.

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The story of Peter Pan, the boy who never grows up, is well known and beloved. However, it's the story of the character's creator, J.M. Barrie, that's capturing hearts in the musical, "Finding Neverland."

The show is touring and playing Proctors through Sunday.

To mount a production like this takes miles of electrical cables, computers galore and set pieces that seem to have their own magic as they are suspended in air waiting to be employed on the stage.

"Just as much choreography is happening onstage as happening backstage, with things flying in, things flying out, things going into different positions," explained Josie Austin, the assistant stage manager.

Austin says virtually all the backstage staff holds degrees in technical theater.

"We have our automation specialist who has his own station and basically what he does is monitor anything that moves on stage," she explained.

The most breathtaking moment on stage happens at the end of Act 2, when the character, Sylvia, played by Lael Van Keuren is enveloped in a vortex of glitter.

"I look up and you just see shining Mylar pieces of glitter and it’s unlike anything," exclaimed Van Keuren. "I’ve seen it from the audience perspective too and I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything like this effect in ‘Finding Neverland.’"

Those shining pieces are made from cut up Mylar, probably the least technical aspect of the show.

Van Keuren's character disappears from stage after the glitter is scattered. How she disappears is a closely held secret, but NewsChannel 13 learned how the glitter whirl is created.

There are six industrial air blowers on each side of the stage, controlled by computer. They are engaged on cue. The air is routed under a specially constructed stage floor. Simultaneously, vents onstage are remotely opened and the glitter released. Yes, it’s a magical moment.

The special effect lasts about 10 seconds - but leaves the audience with lingering awe.

As for the cleanup -- that's done the old fashioned way, with a broom.

More information:
'Finding Neverland' at Proctors


Benita Zahn

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