The Skin of Our Teeth: Costumes, sets, props provide fun spectacle for fall play

Tickets for Nov. 10 and Nov. 12 shows still available at


Photo by Syd Rosas

Senior Marco LaRosa, playing both the Announcer and the Wooly Mammoth, bows. BEAST students created the mask and matching mammoth feet, which LaRosa wears during the play.

Over 100 costumes. A dinosaur. The plague. A wooly mammoth. Beauty contests. War. Technical extravagance and creativity combine to create FUHS Theatre’s The Skin of Our Teeth.

With so many specific details, vivid settings and wild antics, director Michael Despars enlisted the FUHS BEAST Program’s help to bring the show to life. Students hand-crafted a life-sized dinosaur puppet and wooly mammoth costume–both equipped with blinking eyes.

Senior Marco LaRosa plays the Mammoth. For this character, BEAST students decided to combine costume design with sfx construction. One pair of hairy, life-sized mammoth feet work as shoe-covers for LaRosa. Another pair is attached to a set of crutches for the front legs. A large mask with tusks, a trunk, large ears and blinking eyes covers LaRosa’s head.

“Playing the mammoth has definitely been a challenge,” LaRosa said. “I found a lot of inspiration in Andy Serkis, who did the VFX mo-cap for Gollum and played Caesar in Planet of Apes. I’m constantly reminding myself that I’m not playing a human.”

At the end of Act 1, after being shooed out of the house, the mammoth dies in the cold. In an Ice Storm Ballet, choreographed by seniors Mylah Elisaldez and Rynn Wood, an iceberg created by senior Mark Hsieh rolls onto the stage with LaRosa’s mammoth frozen to it.

Seniors Elizabeth Rivas and Larissa Bromley paint the wooly mammoth’s feet during their fourth period BADE class. (Photo by Addam Sapien)

“All of the fur creates so much body heat that I have to get used to,” LaRosa said. “During a scene where everyone is terrified of freezing to death, I’m trying not to die of heat stroke.”

Senior Austin Hulsizer was on the fabrications team for the dinosaur puppet, operated by long-time technician senior Janae Pease. BEAST students split into groups, each managing a different aspect of the puppets. Some worked on the skeleton of the dinosaur, others on adding skin and facial features, including eyes that light up.

“It took a lot of teamwork to make everything work properly,” Hulsizer said. “It’s a lot of painting, sculpting, mold making; there’s so many layers to it all.” 

The Skin of Our Teeth is a complex, thought provoking piece. A commentary on human nature’s cyclical patterns, the play jumbles historical events to display the irony of man’s response to conflict. It uses comedy, biblical allegory and fourth-wall breaking to communicate its message. Taking place throughout the First Ice Age, the Great Flood, the plague, and a mismatch of wars, the play flips between eras in each of the three acts. Known for technical excellence and detailed design work, the play follows the lives of the immortal Antrobus family and their meddling, promiscuous housemaid Sabina.

Senior Ryder Tucker plays the role of Mr. Fitzpatrick, the play-within-the-play’s stage manager. With so many mishaps and character-breaks, Fitz is often hiding behind a plant or in a cabana. (Photo by Syd Rosas)

With so many simultaneous moving parts, the show calls for a masterful stage Crew and stage manager. Stage manager junior Lucia Castrejon, along with assistant stage managers freshman Joshua Block and junior Eddie Burton have worked closely with the highly philosophical script.

“There are so many different things that you can be analyzing and looking at,” Castrejon said. “The play itself is very metaphorical and is eternally relevant.”

As the location of the show differs greatly by act, the set was designed to be adaptable. The same platform that creates the Antrobus house in Act 1 is used as a pier at Atlantic City Beach in Act 2. The FUHS Technical Theatre class took on the challenge of woodwork to construct a fortune teller booth, pushcarts, a stage-wide platform and more. They then painted these pieces, as well as the entire stage floor to look like both a carpet and sand. Many odd props were called for, like a plastic baby, a gas mask and 20 umbrellas.

Technical Theatre students wallpapered the set’s walls to look like stone interior. (Photo by Syd Rosas)

Sound and lighting technicians brought life to the play with colorful spotlights, music, and many sound effects. Lighting designer, junior Micah Plick, used color to depict lightning strikes, the beach, a post-war society, a frozen house and more.

“Lights communicate everything,” Plick said. “Without lighting, you don’t know the time; you don’t know the setting; you don’t know the mood of each scene. Everything works together to create the final product.”

First-time sound designer sophomore Ashley Nava juggles many sound cues and unique effects with crew member sophomore Francisco Monroy-Chavez.

“I really have to stay focused the whole time,” Nava said. “Since it’s a longer play, and because of all the back-to-back cues, it takes close listening. I basically have to memorize the show.”

The Fortune Teller, played by junior Emily Gjevre warns the Antrobus family of the incoming flood. (Photo by Syd Rosas)

There are about 100 costumes in the show, designed by sophomores Yae Eun Han and MJ Santamaria. Many pieces were pulled from the FUHS costume shop’s storage, a grueling task especially due to the ensemble’s characterization in Act 1. About 20 actors portray historical figures, from Marie Antoinette to a radium girl to Homer. In Act 2, each ensemble wears a 1920s swimsuit. In Act 3, each wears a different war uniform.

“It took a lot of communication and dedication to design each costume,” Han said. “With so many eras, settings, and characters, we needed to make a few spreadsheets and lists.”

With each of these costumes comes a different hairstyle and different makeup. Hair and makeup designers senior Sophia Galvan and freshman Isa Calvo created makeup tutorials, hairstyle breakdowns, and spent time one on one with actors, creating each look.

The show is double-casted, meaning that there are two sets of actors playing specific roles, alternating between casts every other show. Each actor faced different challenges when learning to portray their characters. Mrs. Maggie Antrobus, a fiercely protective woman, is played by seniors Lily McWatters and Haley Cronin. In the “New Jersey” cast, McWatters found difficulty in playing a mother as a teen. She reached out to female family members with children to build her understanding.

Cronin delivers a monologue about women’s struggles and the power that comes with motherhood. (Photo by Syd Rosas)

“I don’t think of myself as a motherly person,” McWatters said. “It was hard to find people to look to for those characteristics, so I looked to my grandparents and my mom.”

Mr. George Antrobus, an inventive yet traditional and stern man, is played by seniors Donny Cannady and Nolan Shirk. Shirk, who played Michael Wormwood in last year’s Matilda: The Musical and plays for the FUHS ComedySportz team, says he was challenged by the serious role.

“Being comedic is just in my comfort zone, and I haven’t had to really think about super deep emotions,” Shirk said. “For Antrobus, I have to turn into someone who takes charge aggressively, someone who commands others, someone who sees himself as more than others.”

Son Henry Antrobus, a highly dynamic character, is played by senior Ian Klatzker and junior Cole Frausto. With dramatic emotional shifts in every act, their skills were tested. In Act 1, Henry has a very child-like personality, which shifts to the temperament of an angsty teenager in Act 2. By Act 3, Henry’s innocence has been replaced with violent cynicism.

Cannady and Frausto fight after returning from war in an intense scene. (Photo by Syd Rosas)

“There are moments where he’s kid-like and goofy, and then he shifts into a very serious character,” Klatzker said. “It’s a very interesting shift that I hope I can portray right.”

Junior Sydney Parker and sophomore Bonnie Lynch play golden child Gladys Antrobus. Her youthful innocence manages to stay in-tact throughout the play, representing man’s hope for humanity.

Junior Charlotte Krammer and senior Alexis Helmer play flirty housemaid Lily-Sabina Fairweather. Sabina’s actress, a character named Miss Somerset, frequently breaks the fourth wall to mock the play-within-a-play. All cast members have two roles: their character in the play, and the actor playing that character.

Playgoers can see The Skin of Our Teeth in the Little Theater on Thursday, Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 12 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale in the box office for $10 and online at for $12.