Tricky trap doors


Craig Bardo

A temporary extension will be added to the Willie Duke auditorium stage for use in the production of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” Performances of the spring musical are scheduled for March 25-28.

Emily Hawkins, Staff Writer

Starr’s Mill High School theatre director Lauren Kuykendall is adding a new touch to the stage in the Willie Duke Auditorium.

In addition to directing cast members and technical students, Kuykendall is overseeing a stage extension as part of the musical set. Her husband, Dakota Kuykendall, is building the extension so that special effects and specific scenes can be performed. 

“With the help of our students, we’ll make all of our cuts, put everything into groups, and we’ll just start building off,” Dakota said. 

There are 28 adjacent sections to build and three trap doors to be installed. The stage will be extended by about four feet, and the audience will be able to see characters and special effects within one trap door in the middle of the extension. The two others will be hidden by pieces of the set on either side of the stage. Only a few key characters such as Quasimodo, played by senior Patrick Lacey, and Esmeralda, played by sophomore Aleeno Soto, will be seen using the doors.

“Esmeralda is the one that’s using them primarily, just because she needs to create kind of a distraction to make quick getaways,” Lauren said.

Lauren has explained that some special effects like pyrotechnics will be used with the trap doors, specifically where Esmeralda tosses a smoke bomb in one scene. Although the build will take Dakota an estimated full day, adjustments to the extension and the overall set will take place over the course of the next several weeks.

“It’s always one of those things where there’s always something that we can be fixing or building,” Dakota said. “That’s how it is in the theatre.”

The stage extension will stay up in the auditorium for a number of weeks so that the cast can film their entry for the Georgia Shuler Awards, which will be evaluated virtually this year instead of in-person. 

The live production of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” will be performed March 25-28, and the stage extension will be broken down afterward.