The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

Swing into spring with WCHS Blast 34: Into the Wild

Photo courtesy of @wchsblast on Instagram
Blast 34: Into the Wild is an energetic and vibrant production, created by the work of incredible tech crew, dancers, singers and directors.

“Blast 34: Into the Wild” is the most popular WCHS Blast of the decade, with over 600 audience members attending its opening night. This is unsurprising, as the experienced directors and leaders have dedicated months to fine-tuning the show, with the talented singers, dancers, musicians and tech members working together to present an unforgettable performance. Although the attending audience sees the result, the behind-the-scenes and years of innovation that make Blast better each year remains a mystery to many. 

“Blast started in the 90’s. As far as I know, it actually started out of the choir class, and it was initially their concert. Somehow [it] turned into an all-around school concert, and it kind of built up from there into its current form,” said WCHS media services technician Ben Schnapp. “[My] first couple years were a little rough, I’ve got to say — it was the new era of Blast and we had to redefine it and make it our own.” 

Blast has been a unique part of WCHS’s culture for over 30 years, and Schnapp has helped direct it for the past decade as the media services technician and director of the tech crew that manages all technical aspects of the shows, including sound, micing, lighting, stage design and costumes. Every production has a unique theme with accompanying set design and song choices, which are decided at the end of the preceding school year. Jenna Bortnick, a tech crew member and a junior at WCHS, intimately understands the work students put into every production. 

“I would spend about thirty hours a week working on the set as it got closer to the shows. Tech crew] are very dedicated and we spend a lot of time working on the set and performances. Sometimes we end up having very little time outside of tech,” said Bortnick. “We put a ton of work into building the set, especially during tech week.”

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For a week before opening night, everyone spends hours at school prepping for performances. Students stay after school, some days as late as 10 p.m., to run selected rehearsals in addition to the entire show from start to finish. Each dance is examined for errors, corrected and then re-run until it is deemed stage-ready. Sometimes multiple rehearsals take place in a day, perfecting every part of Blast until it is ready for an audience. 

“I do expect a certain amount of dedication. And with tech crew, every year, I’ve always had that group that’s willing to put in the hours to make a show happen. Those that do, they get a lot out of it, and they’re really committed,” said Schnapp. “I mean, we’ve been working on Blast since the play closed in February. It’s tough to leave here at 10:30 at night, not get home until 11:00, and then wake up at 5:00 in the morning to do the same thing the next day.”

Besides building and painting the set, one of the tech crew’s other responsibilities is directing the technical aspects of the shows. There are full student-run departments that are in charge of lighting, the sound system, constructing the set, painting and decorating the set, props and costuming. Sarah Finke is a WCHS senior in charge of lighting, the department that manages the stage lights and spotlights. 

“I don’t think people realize how much work actually goes into a show. Way more is happening behind the scenes to put a product on stage,” said Finke. “For Blast 34, everything you see is done by students. The construction of the set, the lighting, the sound, was all done by students. We work under the guidance of our technical director, Mr. Schnapp, but we put in [months] of work to put on an amazing show.”

“Blast 34: Into the Wild” has broken records and awed audiences because of the efforts of many incredibly motivated students and teachers. Performers honed their skills just as the tech crew tirelessly created and organized programs at WCHS. Tech crew is only a part of the intricate and taxing equation that brings Blast to life, but the work they do is invaluable. 

“Blast is always an interesting challenge due to the nature of the show… it’s up to us to create it completely from scratch,” said Finke. “Being able to put in so much work and see a polished product is such a reward. It’s super fun to put on performances for audiences and be able to make others shine from the shadows.” 

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About the Contributor
Dehab Deglel
Dehab Deglel, Promotions & Subscriptions Manager
Dehab Deglel is a sophomore at WCHS and is the Promotions Manager for her second year taking journalism. This school year she is excited to develop her writing skills further and meet new people. When outside of school, Dehab likes to read, go on long walks, and play video games with her family.

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