Musical Mom

Behind the stage — and the curtains, too — resides Ahlam Weidman, the woman behind practically every detail in the North Allegheny musicals.

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photo by Jess Daninhirsch

Ahlam Weidman, the parent coordinator for the NA Musicals, is an ever-present face during show season.

Kat Klinefelter, Staff Writer

Ever wonder what it takes to put on a North Allegheny musical? Of course, there are the musical directors, choreographers, stage crew, and actors, but did you know that there is one more section of the musical? 

Since 2008, Ahlam Weidman has been the woman behind the curtain who helps to bring NA musical productions to life. If there’s a rehearsal, Weidman is somewhere in the auditorium.

“A normal rehearsal day means arrive early, make sure the stage is clean, make sure everything is swept, and that all the stage pieces are where they need to be,” Weidman said in a recent Uproar interview.

That is only the tip of her theatrical iceberg, though.

“The music, lights, everything that is turned on. The doors are unlocked, attendance sheets, and then I answer questions from directors. I take notes during the rehearsal,” Weidman continued. “I collect the paperwork as people come in. I try to process all of that and then run between everybody during rehearsals to make sure everything’s going well. Then I stay until the last student leaves.”

Even with all that running around, you won’t find Weidman in tennis shoes. All of her shoes are at least three inches tall.

“I was born short, so I wear heels all the time. To me a two-inch wedge is like my flats,” Weidman said.

Although her preparations sound like a lot, shows are even more demanding. 

“I’m bringing in parent volunteers, so I’m overseeing them in the lobby and all of their sales. We manage tickets. I clean the auditorium before the show. I clean the auditorium after the show,” she mentioned, taking a breath. “I’m still managing all the stage crew and all the costumes and things backstage, but now it’s a bigger deal. Then we have guests, and I’m out there [in the auditorium] greeting people as they come in,.”

Most of the people involved in the musical, including the students and the directors who work with the actors, go home at around 9:00 p.m. at the latest. Weidman is the exception. 

“The earliest time in the morning is on days when we do the elementary performance or middle school performance and students are expected to arrive by 7:15,” she said. “I’m usually here by 5:00, so everything is set by the time the students walk in. The latest I’ve been here was two or three in the morning to paint sets.”

During those seven months, Weidman puts in about additional 45 hours to assist with the musicals.”

During those seven months of musical performances, Weidman puts in about additional 45 hours to assist with both the middle school and high school musicals. 

“Between September and March, I strive for six [hours of sleep] on a school night, and maybe eight on a weekend. I make sure I get it. I just choose not to eat or workout or something else,” she said.

But most students would be surprised to learn that Weidman’s love for musical theater never brought her to the stage in high school or even in college. 

“In high school, I was a band geek,” she explained. “I was in the marching band, and when I was younger I played the clarinet. By the time I got to the marching band, I didn’t want to be with the clarinetists, so I played cymbals one year and the bass drum another so that I could be in the drumline with the boys.”

Having been involved with the productions for over a decade now, it might seem that choosing her favorite one would strike her with some difficulty. However, she revealed that her top two picks that North Allegheny has performed are easily Cinderella and Les Miserables.

Cinderella was one of my favorites, which we did in 2016. I really liked when we did Les Mis back in 2011. My youngest son was in that one and Mr. Schmiech [NASH choir teacher and vocal coach for the high school musicals] was in that one, [too],” Weidman said.

Since the first time her sons were in the shows, Weidman has spent nearly 15 years working to bring NA’s musicals to auditorium-packed crowds. She has been able to meet thousands of students who participated, and at the end of every long day, that is why she does what she does. 

“Getting to know the kids is the only reason I do it,” she said. “While I enjoy doing the building [of sets] and working on the director’s side of things, almost every year, I make close connections with a handful of kids that I have kept in touch with for years and years.”