Artist of the Week: Sophia Pettine, Set Designer and Stage Manager


Parker Abramson and Mercedes Lombardo

Sophia Pettine is a senior and the stage manager for Mendham Players, the Mendham theater program. As the stage manager, not only does she organize the building of the set and many of the events that happen backstage, but she also designs the entire set.

Before high school, Sophia had not done anything like stage crew before. “High School has given me so many opportunities,” she remarks. In fact, Sophia has done stage crew for all four years of high school being a part of eight productions, four plays, and four musicals. She had not given much thought to what level her stage crew involvement would be her senior year, but she recalls, “when I found out I was chosen to fulfill the role, I was deeply honored and excited!”

At first, Sophia did not have in mind that she was going to be part of crew and help design sets for the school, but her mom gave her the idea since she used to be in crew in high school. “She pushed me to give it a shot!” Sophia explains “I was nervous at first, but the people I met were so welcoming and fun that I was hooked.” Sophia calls her household artistic and remarks that she was always encouraged to be creative. “I always loved architecture, design, and theater,” she details. These ideas combined made stage manager the perfect position for her!

Sophia’s first experience having more involvement in stage crew and designing the set was her sophomore year. “The previous set designer, Quinn Molner, was looking for an assistant. I applied for the job,” she explains. From there, she obtained her first experience of having more of a leadership role in the design and construction of the set. Her love for the position grew, as did her skill and expertise.

Designing the set is a process and Sophia’s excitement always propels her to start as early as she can. “Once I find out the show, I can’t help but start sketching!” she exclaims. But of course, the first draft is never the same as the final. While she leads the design, she always bounces ideas off of the director and anyone else involved. Even when the building begins, the set design changes and needs to shift in order to accommodate the change from paper to the three-dimensional world. “Designing the set takes a lot of trial and error,” and explains “but the entire process is a lot of fun!” Although it may be tough to sometimes organize the set, Sophia knows she can count on the people that surround her. “The crew is a family, and I’m so lucky to be part of it. We hold each other up and work together!” She is always up for new challenges, and even when times may get tough she knows that she is not alone.

The most recent production she has worked on was the play Macbeth which was performed back in November. Since Macbeth took place in Scotland in the eleventh century, one of the inspirations for the set was an old Scottish castles. Each scene was colored by smaller set pieces that pulled together each scenery and encompassed each scene’s specific mood. One of the most monumental set pieces were the banners. She describes how they “played around with huge banners, which evolved into an integral moment in the show.” The banner unfurled above the stage in a dramatic fashion exemplifying the importance of the moment.

Sophia applied early decision to Muhlenberg since it was one of her first choices and Muhlenberg has “an amazing theater production program” and she is very excited to be part of it in the future. Muhlenberg will be very lucky to have someone like Sophia in their program since she already got accepted to it. She still plans on pursuing set building in her future. She is not sure what she is going to make yet, “but I know I want to create!”

At the end of the day, the stage crew is another family for Sophia. They laugh together, they cry together, and they support each other. “This group is really what the students have put into it. I have had the blessing of working alongside such amazing people!”