When Raul and Angie Aguallo aren’t working their day jobs or building the Scottsbluff High School musical set, you’ll find them on the Gering High School stage — building their musical set.
The Aguallos began their set building journey back in 2011 with Scottsbluff High School, doing it as parents of a cast member. When their son Aaron transferred to Gering his senior year in 2014, they began helping the Gering musical production as well.
“We didn’t know that we were going to build Scottsbluff that year because we committed to Gering to go help that year with him, because he was working on the show down there,” Raul said. “And then we had a bunch of kids that we were talking about. And … they’re like, ‘You got to build my show. You got to build my show.’ We get those kids every year that come up, ‘Hey, thank you for the set. It’s wonderful. It makes the experience better.’ So, here we are.”
Since then, the couple has been building the sets for both schools. This year, the two of them head to the Gering High School stage every Sunday afternoon to finish up the set for the production of “Wizard of Oz.”
Angie and Raul are the only ones working on the “Wizard of Oz” set this year, due to COVID-19 precautions. In the past, musical directors Shelly Muggli and Andy Stobel would require all students in the musical to put in some hours of work helping with the set.
Despite the lack of help this year, the Aguallos are making pretty good time, thanks to the high school performing the same production as they had planned for last year.
“They base-coated everything,” Angie said. “So we did, last year, have a lot of help with this.”
Raul said that because Gering’s stage is a bit smaller, they get even more creative with their set pieces to keep them from taking up too much space and easy to maneuver. Some of their completed pieces for “Wizard of Oz” include Dorothy’s house that spins for the tornado, the scarecrow’s platform and stand and the emerald gates of Oz that, when flipped around, becomes part of the wicked witch’s castle.
Some of the set pieces are items community members have lent to the school to use specifically for the production, including a hot air balloon basket. The Aguallos said they are always excited to see the community’s buy-in to the school musicals.
“The buy-in from the community has gotten better over the last 10 years,” Raul said. “They like the musicals and what they’re doing here, and they appreciate everything. And they’re more than willing to put their stuff out there.”
Other set pieces are borrowed or repurposed from the Scottsbluff High School musical department, a sharing that has happened more often with the Aguallos building sets at both schools.
The couple feels as if they act as a kind of bridge between the two schools. They have seen the camaraderie between Bearcats and Bulldogs grow.
“Because we do both schools, we have been able to increase how much both schools help each other with kind of sharing,” Angie said. “We’re the vehicle between (the schools).”
“When we build both shows, we kind of feel like we’re starting to tie the communities together, at least from a musical standpoint,” Raul said. “They’re starting to come over and see each other’s shows, and that’s kind of fun.”