Theatre teacher and director Robert Botello helps a student during a community production

Behind the Curtain – Interview with Robert Botello

Behind the Curtain’ is a new series we’re debuting on this blog. I’ll be interviewing people behind the scenes in the world of theatre, both professional and amateur—being careful never to leave out the magic happening in community theatres and schools.

And rather than posting entire interviews, which can be long and sometimes difficult to digest in one sitting, we’ll be posting just one question and answer at a time, with a variety of topics, tips, and interesting stories. Personally, I love a good series, and this will be a great opportunity to get to know people doing interesting and creative things in theatre—always with a slant toward the inspiring, creative and empowering. Because hey, theatre should be fun, an environment of learning and growth, and a place where we can come together and celebrate good stories and life. And now, Robert Botello:

Robert, what is one of your all-time favorite shows you were a part of and what made it memorable?

I would say ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ It was incredible because a lot of the crew who made it and designed it did not have a strong background in theatre. The stage pieces were bulky and heavy and durable and ended up creating this really solid look on the stage. It didn’t end up having a transparent feel. For example, the giant doors for the Emerald City. They were these huge 20 ft. tall panels that were on wheels and they spun around. It made for this breathtaking moment when they were moved away—there was a whole carnival scene setup behind.

Also, with the costumes we were able to do sepia-toned at the beginning so that everybody including Dorothy had a reversable outfit. All the kids had these little brown outfits and everyone on the farm too. And then, as the twister happened, everything changed to color. There were some technical aspects that made it really come alive. It was really cool.

Theatre director and teacher Robert Botello discusses production community productions like Wizard of Oz

On the production end of the things the Wicked Witch sold it. It was so good. She was incredible. We did shows for kids in elementary schools and there were scenes where she would enter from the back. And at one point she even hustled between scenes and came in from the balcony—surprising all the kids up there! It was a 360 degree experience for everyone! Every single person got to experience and be involved in it. Also, the witch was funny and even funky. The style that she delivered the lines in was really reflective of our audience here. It really worked well.

Also, some of our characters, like the Scarecrow, didn’t audition with the most incredible voice—but we really saw the potential he had. There was just a way that we knew he could represent the Scarecrow differently and not so literal to the movie version. That he could bring life to it in a way that was really his own take on the character. It ended up working beautifully. The same thing with the other characters—they really represented the people here coming to see it.

Question 2 Coming Soon! 

Robert is a director with a community theatre program in rural Alabama, helping children and teens in an impoverished area gain opportunities through local theatre.

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