Behind the Scenes of Interlochen Presents

Crescendo issue: July 2014

Millions of people have attended concerts at Interlochen. Each performance, grand or intimate, is supported by designers, producers, directors, managers, riggers and technicians who oversee everything from lighting and sound to instrument placement and set design. This month we go behind the scenes of Interlochen Presents with one of Interlochen’s stagecraft pros, Rachel Diebel, production technician.

Rachel’s “office” is Kresge Auditorium, The Bowl, Corson, Upton Morley Pavilion and the many other performance venues on campus. She has been a part of the backstage world of Interlochen for the past five years and while she works year-round, her summers are a whirlwind of activity, with a long list of student, faculty and guest artist performances every week.

“The most difficult part of set-up is working with unfamiliar people and gear,” says Rachel. “But that is also the most fun. Every act has their own crew leading the charge. There’s a lot of thinking on your feet and finding solutions to unique situations. It’s fun because, at the end of the day, it always turns out to be an amazing show.”

Recently, the crew was preparing for the arrival of Sheryl Crow. Eleven hours before the performance, they were at work in Kresge Auditorium, setting up the lighting and dodging large black crates being wheeled onto the stage.

Not long after the mechanisms of the Kresge stage were set, two white semi-trucks backed into place alongside the auditorium. Out from those trucks poured the entirety of the Sheryl Crow concert machine.

“My favorite part of the large Kresge shows is meeting and talking with the people, the road-crews, and the artists,” said Rachel as she headed toward the trucks. “I love meeting people, and talking shop with others who have similar interests and fun stories of touring.”

With the arrival of the trucks, the pace of activity quickly increased. Interlochen’s crew mixed with the seasoned pros of Sheryl Crow’s staff. Equipment rolled off the trucks, onto the stage and was placed into position. Drum sets were erected and tested, guitars of all shapes and sizes appeared and pianos were rolled into place. The odd accordion found a seat on stage as well.

Each instrument was put through a sound check and the giant video screens were blinking to life with images of Johnny Cash, in preparation for a duet between The Man In Black and Sheryl Crow later that evening.

When the stage was nearly set, another RV arrived. Members of the band exited first, then, shortly after, Ms. Crow emerged.

“I love the looks of people who have never visited campus before,” Rachel said. “They can't believe how many people are here and all dedicated to the arts. It makes me proud to work here.”

Before the night was over, Rachel and her colleagues, in perfect harmony with Sheryl Crow's group, switched out equipment, lighting, instruments and more during the show, and then expertly broke the stage down and sent Sheryl Crow on her way. Then, the behind-the-scenes crew began preparations for the next day’s performances.