32 hours: behind the scenes of In The Heights


Revealed in Act Two, this mural depicts Abuela Claudia and her personal motto, "Pacienia y fe," meaning "Patience and faith."

James Arnold, Editor

Every year, Mayo’s drama department puts on three fabulous productions: the fall play, the one-act, and the spring musical. Everyone who sees these productions can recognize the actors, their peers, but those behind the scenes often go underappreciated.

Mary Pfeifer, a sophomore, painted the incredible mural revealed in Act Two of In The Heights. Last school year, the drama department approached the art department to ask for help with the mural they were going to need for next fall’s play. After some deliberation, Mary decided to sign on.

“My friends kept urging me to join drama; they’re very involved. I always said I wouldn’t sell my soul to drama,” she said. “Then, I sold my soul to drama.”

The mural Pfeifer was to paint is of the character Abuela Claudia, played by senior Carolyn Leibovich. Before she could begin the mural, she had to wait for Carolyn’s makeup to be perfected, meaning she only had a few weeks to complete the pre-drawings, layout, actual painting, and finishing sealants.

Though she never intended to be involved with drama, Mary Pfeifer ended up with the incredibly important role of mural artist for In The Heights.

“There were supposed to be other people helping,” Mary said of the many setbacks along the way. “It was supposed to be on an actual grate, and at one point, half the paint peeled off after it was rolled up, so I had to start over!”

Overall, the mural took a total of 32 hours, including the weekend days where she used jars of paint she had mixed by hand the week before. She related the harrowing experience of staying up nights to paint.

“I’d stay up until one or two or three, and then I’d sleep until nine, and I’d get up and draw or paint all day. The only thing that got me through was the caffeine!” she said, and laughed.

At the end of the day, though, painting the mural was a good experience for her.

“I sort of proved to myself that I can work well under pressure and still produce something good, as well as working to a deadline even if things go wrong.” Though it was hard, she made it happen, and the result was great. The Act Two reveal of the mural is a pivotal point in In The Heights, and it wouldn’t be the same without Mary’s hard work.