Written by: Phoebe Wang
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” —Henry Ford
In December, the Westlake Technical Entertainment Crew and Lexus of Austin puts on the annual Nutcracker Spectacular, a show featuring Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker played by the Westlake Symphonic Orchestra and performances by the dancers at the local dance studio, Alisa’s Dance Academy. For those in Westlake TEC, the Nutcracker Spectacular marks the first of the three major productions that take place in the Westlake Community Performing Arts Center every year, followed by the choir’s musical, and Hyline’s Zenith.
As the first major production of the year, the Nutcracker Spectacular is when the line between the new students currently enrolled in Technical Theatre 1 and the more experienced members of Westlake TEC begin to blur. In order to put on the show for around five thousand five hundred people, everyone works together to find sponsors, design visual effects, and ensure a flawless show. This year, the WCPAC Managing Director, David Poole hired a new technical director, Michael Essad. Mr. Essad has put in countless hours to improve the show by rebuilding the Christmas tree, decorating and revitalizing the set, and supervising backstage areas during each performance. With the help of Mr. Essad, PAC staff, and incredible student leadership, Westlake TEC successfully put on five completely sold out shows.
Despite the pressure and the work associated with the Nutcracker Spectacular, it remains a favorite among many, including Kyle Hoover (Senior), this year’s Nutcracker stage manager. Kyle says the Nutcracker is his favorite production because “it embodies what TEC is...It’s a huge production with lots of scenery, special effects, and lighting elements. Nutcracker shows what TEC is capable of, and it is very special to get to share the show with the Westlake community”. Even freshmen, whose first production is the Nutcracker, enjoy it. Tate Miller, currently in Technical Theatre 1, says, “I signed up for the Nutcracker because it was the closest upcoming major production and I just really wanted to start off my TEC career with the Nutcracker.” He also adds that “the orchestra is really good, and I like how they’re playing the originals”.
In addition to the Nutcracker in the fall semester, TEC also works to broadcast all of Westlake’s varsity football games on television. This was the first year that TEC broadcasted on KXAN’s sister station, KBVO. The Westlake Television Broadcast Crew, colloquially known as the “Video Crew”, is arguably one of the greatest achievements of the organization. Many are first motivated to be in TEC because of this crew and the technology and opportunities associated with it, such as Luke Beasley (Freshman), and the current Westlake TEC president, Sean Wangnick (Senior). Sean was introduced to the program in seventh grade and “couldn’t wait to be a freshman at Westlake, just so I could be a part of TEC...and it was really all about the technology for me”. Overtime, Sean says that he realized “it becomes less and less about the technology you’re working with but more about the people you’re working with”. Luke, like Sean when he was younger, joined TEC because he “knew of how an amazing of an opportunity it is and how the TEC culture is something no other organization can give you, and I love the performance and the technical side of things”. This is a sentiment shared by many others, who all find TEC and Video Crew to be an amazing experience.
An example was when the Westlake football team played in the 2017 UIL Football State Semi-finals at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. For the first time in history, the Video Crew took the opportunity to broadcast the game live. As the Nutcracker Spectacular performances were taking place at the same time, about 1/3 of the crew had to stay back. This split-up of an essential crew creates a stressful situation that forces everyone to become a lot more focused in order to pull off both productions simultaneously. The last time a football broadcast and a Nutcracker show coincided like this was in 2015. At that time, Kyle Hoover had written that despite the obstacles, “both events went off without a hitch, a feat which really shows the community how professional and dedicated the TEC organization is”. This again can be said about the Westlake TEC today, since both Nutcracker shows and the live broadcast went off without a hitch.
Now that the fall semester is over, everyone begins to look forward to the future productions in the spring and strives to continuously achieve success in everything Westlake TEC will do.