Candles and Carols has been a holiday tradition at AU for 52 years. The show celebrates the holiday season with the different performance groups at AU. This year, Candles and Carols took place on Friday, Dec. 2 and featured more than 250 student performers. With such a massive production, a committed crew was needed backstage.
The backstage crew for Candles and Carols consisted of less than 10 AU students who were led by Dave Crump, who also did the lighting. The sound for the event was led by a contracted group that does the sound for large events in Reardon Auditorium.
Jarrod Bright was one of the students who worked backstage for Candles and Carols. During his freshman year, he was a performer in the wind ensemble, and this was his second time helping backstage. His experience with Candles and Carols was not his only experience working backstage.
“Most shows I personally work are like rock or pop or worship concerts,” Bright said. “So when Candles and Carols is all choir and ensembles, it’s pretty different.”
Bright’s role backstage mainly consisted of moving things on and off of the stage. There were platforms on top of the stage that needed to be set up, as well as many chairs that had to be set in certain places. “Candles and Carols has a very involved backstage job as compared to other shows,” he said. “When we have to do the switch from wind ensemble to orchestra, it is normally a big move and that takes a lot of preparation to make sure everything is done flawlessly.”
The backstage crew did not move the chairs from the wind ensemble off of the stage so there would be room for the dance groups, however. At one point in the performance, the wind ensemble was responsible for moving their instruments, stands and chairs off of the stage while the choir was singing. This left less for the backstage crew to move later on. The backstage crew also helped the wind ensemble with stacking their chairs and stands while they were coming off of the stage.
Since Candles and Carols is such a large event, there were many things that needed to be done in advance. Special lights were rented beforehand for rehearsals and the performance. The programming of these lights happened the week before the show. “Stage set up started about a week or two in advance,” Bright said. “We did a walk-through on the Monday before and dress rehearsal the day before.”
In recent years, the television tapings of Candles and Carols have been discontinued. The show used to be filmed the night before the live performance and was later shown on local channels. Previously, AU’s own Covenant Productions filmed the production. The last year that Candles and Carols was recorded and televised was 2013.
When the show was recorded, all the performers would have to dress as they would for the live show. Bright, who was a member of the wind ensemble during one of the TV tapings, said, “As a performer, we also had to wear makeup for television purposes, which was weird.”
Candles and Carols has been an AU tradition for 52 years. “My favorite part is being a part of an event that has so much history and it is so much appreciated by people in the community,” Bright said. “Candles and Carols has been around long before me and hopefully it will be around long after me. So to be a part of something with that much history is pretty cool.”