TWIN FALLS — Dilettante Group of Magic Valley — Twin Falls’ oldest community theater troupe — spent months preparing its production of the musical “Jekyll and Hyde,” and a Times-News team followed the process from auditions to the final curtain.

The result was a special story and multimedia project, published Sunday in the Times-News and on Magicvalley.com/bigstory. Here's what the journalists had to say about the experience.

Tetona Dunlap

Dunlap, an entertainment reporter, wrote Sunday's big feature story.

"There are some stories where you have to work hard to gain a source's trust. Then there are stories where people are eager to work with you. But there is nothing quite like following a group of amateur actors with big personalities who love the spotlight.

"I really enjoyed following the current Dilettante members through their spring show, because they were friendly and uncensored.

"I like it best when people know I'm in the room as a reporter, but it never holds them back from being who they are. I've lost count of how many times I've told people, 'Just pretend I'm not here.' Most people don't, but I didn't have to tell the Dilettantes twice.

"I had so much access that sometimes I feared I didn't delve far enough into the process. As someone who was never part of the theater crowd, I kind of feel like I missed out on an opportunity to hang out with some zany and fun people.

"Even two weeks after the final curtain, I still see Facebook messages on the 'Jekyll and Hyde' group page of people lamenting over the emptiness of their free time post-production.

"Seena Plumb shared a meme March 15 that summed up the void: Post-musical syndrome — Depression occurs the first few weeks after a musical. The victim tries to convince themselves that it hasn't ended by repeating lyrics in their everyday vocabulary.

"Adam Davis posted March 11: Saw my favorite prostitute Elyse at Buffalo Cafe. Miss you all. I don't even know what to do with all my free time anymore.

"Dusty Blackburn wrote March 13: I've been dreaming about some new ways to stage a few of the numbers. Is it too soon to talk about reviving this show?

"Ivan Hardcastle on March 15: Just drove my girls down the road while singing 'Murder, Murder.'

"And, yes, even I, the reporter who never sang one lyric of a song, still wake up on some mornings with the chorus of 'Murder, Murder' playing on a loop in my head."

Drew Nash

Nash, the Times-News' chief photographer, shot most of the images in a big photo gallery about the Dilettantes' production.

"Long-term projects always require a bit of finesse. Getting along and building trust is a must, but becoming part of the story is a major no-no.

"So, finally on my last shoot, after their last show, I was able to break loose a little bit and take in just how amazing this cast was.

"Dustin Blackburn is a sheer joy to spend time with, as I'm sure the cast and crew would attest to. A constant professional, he really knew when to crack a joke or flash his infectious smile that we all grew accustomed to.

"I've worked with Blackburn a number of times over the years, but I had never truly gotten to know how much of a gem he is to our community. Be sure to go to his next gig and tell him Drew sent you."

Pat Sutphin

Sutphin, a photographer, ventured outside of his usual role to shoot footage on show nights and produce a four-minute video feature.

"I have never shot video on this scale before. It was challenging to say the least. I ended up shooting two performances because I made many mistakes on the first night, but each mistake was a learning opportunity.

"I decided to use a monopod instead of a tripod because it would be lighter and easier to maneuver. I wasn’t sure how crazy it would be backstage or how quickly I would need to be able to move out of the way, so this seemed like the obvious choice.

"Unfortunately, the monopod is not as stable as I needed for video work. I ended up tossing out about 80 percent of my clips because of camera shake.

"On the second night, I used a tripod. I learned enough about the process backstage that I knew I could get out of the way while still capturing quality B-role. The other benefit of shooting a second performance is the cast accepted me as one of their own. Instead of being distracted by my camera, they focused on their job. This is exactly what a journalist hopes for.

"The experience was challenging, long and at times frustrating, and I can’t wait to do it again."

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