Musical theatre: beyond the stage


Courtesy of Jose Gallentes

Mila Whitmore poses for a photo.


For Jose Gallentes, Clara Althaus and Victoria Agbulos, Skyline College students who starred in Skyline’s spring musical, “Into the Woods”, the three-day production was a time of stress and finding balance.

Gallentes, who played Cinderella’s prince as well as the wolf in the production, recently found musical theatre acting to be a passion. While it is not something he has been into for long, he will be continuing musical theatre.

“When it came to musicals at my high schools, I was always with the orchestra playing guitar or percussion,” Gallentes said. “Being on stage as an actor was definitely a new ball game for me.”

Gallentes, who was constantly switching roles, was also changing costumes backstage. Within 10 minutes, Gallentes had to sing “Hello Little Girl” as the wolf and then had another 10 minutes to change from his wolf costume and dress in royal clothing. While this was fascinating for Gallentes, it also came with its challenges.

“Getting used to the dancing in the wolf costume was definitely a struggle,” Gallentes said. “Not only was it super heavy, but it was also super hot inside. So dancing inside wasn’t the greatest thing ever.”

Musical productions such as “Into the Woods” can take months to prepare for and it’s not a one-person thing. Multiple students and directors are putting time, effort and dedication into the choreography and voices during rehearsals and on their own time.

Althaus who played Cinderella has been in musical productions both during high school and with other musical companies in the Bay Area, but “Into the Woods” was her first production at Skyline.

In the eyes of Althaus, the college musical theatre is a more professional setting and one which she was happy to be a part of, but it did bring on stress.

“It was very stressful in some areas,” Althaus said. “In the first month or so, it was kinda fun getting to learn the music, getting to learn our lines but as it got closer to the show it started to get stressful, and there was a lot of things to work on and improve on, and learning dances and making sure our notes where correct. Overall it was very fun but very stressful.”

Gallentes, Althaus, and Agbulos are all college students who had a lot of other responsibilities during the time leading up to the play.

“To be honest I don’t know how I found my balance,” said Althaus. “I just kinda made it work. It was very hectic, and I was very busy but I made sure I kept myself organized. I made sure I kept a little calendar to make sure I wasn’t falling behind in my other classes or missing work.”

Althaus and Gallentes spoke on the positives of their experience with their co-stars, and how close everyone gets.

“We became friends super fast, considering how much time we spent with each other at rehearsals, you’d expect all of us to be close after a while,” Gallentes said. “This cast was crazy talented and some of the funniest and coolest people that I know.”

The theatre experience is not the same for everyone. Agbulos, who played Florinda, Cinderella’s stepsister, admitted to facing multiple challenges within the musical due to stress.

Agbulos was not only involved in the school musical but is a part of the esthetician program at Skyline College and was taking 19 units total. As it was her first college musical, she came in not knowing anyone and while she did get to know people that she was close to, the long days affected the way everything came at her.

“They don’t call it drama for no reason,” Agbulos said. “When people are stressed they like to have authority. I hated everyone at one point. Everyone was rude, everyone was yelling. Once the show was over everyone was cool again, everyone was now just people who have the same passion and interest.”

Despite the challenges, Agbulos faced along the way this was something she persevered for her family, for herself, and because it is something she has a passion for and wants to do long-term.

“The only thing I did enjoy when I was at school was musical theatre,” Agbulos said. “I didn’t mind putting in extra work for it, and why wouldn’t I want to make something that makes me happy into a career?”

For Agbulos, the feeling she got on stage is what topped all else. It wasn’t the same every day as it was always a unique experience.

“Before the show, there is always anxiety,” Agbulos said. “Once you’re on stage and you feel that comfort zone, the lights on you but you feel at peace with yourself. Knowing this is what you wanna do, it just happens so naturally. You feel almost an adrenaline but at the same time a calming adrenaline.”

For those who are considering joining theatre, all three cast members had powerful advice for students: not to be afraid, even if it’s something you are unsure about.

“If you love it to do it,” Agbulos said. “Remember when things get hard to keep a happy and healthy mindset. Moments like these make you a harder worker. Having patience, passion, perseverance and positivity are the big things.”