Archive | July, 2013

And now it’s gone

24 Jul

Usually when a play is over, the tech crew is ready to pack it all up and go home. It seems like in most musicals there is one slow song that goes on too long, a scene that is ho-hum at  best, or some other aspect that  in combination with everything else burns out the crew. But not with Seussical. We were in agreement that we could have run the show a few more weekends.

7 20 whosWe were all surprised. When we first looked at the script, it was all singing and dancing with little dialogue. We had second thoughts on the idea but when the spot light hit JoJo and the Cat in the Hat appeared it was obvious that it would be a great show.

7 20 CircusOne audience member had said she was too old to have read Dr. Seuss and didn’t know much about him. After the first act she reported that she didn’t really know what was going on but she loved the singing and dancing and it was way more than she expected from community theater.

Of course credit goes to everyone involved and the audiences who showed up and rose to their feet when it was over. Director Christa brought a vision to the show that was colorful, fun, and allowed the actors and crew to shine. The crew and actors went over the top in a show that allows for that.

7 20 stage strike 2But just like that it’s over. The truffula trees and Whoville are gone, the shop cleaned, the stage mopped and the cast party is over.

So, as the actors always want to know, what’s next?7 20 lights

And at the end of the show, the crowd stood…

13 Jul

…and that is why we all do it.

About eight weeks ago, the prospective actors showed up and auditioned for a part. Adults and kids came into the auditorium and sang a few bars and said  a few lines, then were taken to the other room to try their dancing skills. And with a musical of this size, everyone is offered a part. The actors spent the next weeks learning the songs, learning the choreography, learning their blocking, and of course, learning their lines. Those weeks are over.

The cast, crew, and pit band.

The cast, crew, and pit band.

Backstage the costume crew was busy creating, then sewing, glueing, and tacking. Fake feathers in neon colors littered the green room where they worked (and the stage every time the Bird Girls leave it). The glitter and buttons,  ribbons and material, foo-fluff and thread that adorn the costumes has now been placed where the crew can get easy access to it should anything need repair.

7 12 JoJo and catThe makeup person has had ideas in her head for weeks, trying them on her roommates, but not being able to see how it all looks until the dress rehearsal two days before opening. She has delegated duties to make sure everyone is ready at the appointed curtain time. Fake noses and tufts of fur have to dry on some actors before the makeup is applied. Each actor is magically transformed into their character.

The Truffala trees, and Whoville, and the backdrop and all of the other set pieces are finished but Scott and Dan and Bob are somewhere around in case something needs repair. The props master was hoping that the paint would dry on the final props before the curtain opened, after weeks of creating fanciful and wild works of art.

7 12 horton and jungleA few weeks ago, the pit band could be heard in the band room across the hall learning the score. A real pit band adds a dimension to the performance that no recording could ever do. And when they tune and warm up before the show, kids and adults walk to the front to take a peek.

The final two lights that the High School owns were plugged in on Friday afternoon to help smooth out a few dead spots and they were integrated into the final lighting plot. And after a few tense days, additional microphones were finally found to round out the soundscape. So Chris, our new sound guy, found himself busily repatching the amp tower and reconfiguring the microphone set up just hours before the curtain opened. (Special thanks to all of those who donated to make the extra microphones possible!)7 12 Mayzie

And at 7:02 on Friday night, the stage manager said, “are we ready?” The light guy said, “house lights are down, let’s go.” JoJo came out of the wing, said his opening lines,  the curtain opened and the high wire act that is live theater on opening night began. The band hit their first notes, the actors in their brightly colored and fanciful costumes appeared, the set pieces taken from the pages of a Seuss book came to life.

Two hours later, the actors had sung and danced their hearts out, the stage managers had wrestled with chaos and won, the band sounded terrific, a few late light cues and the constant concern about battery life in microphone packs were past.

The audience rose during the curtain call and showed all of us why we spent the last eight weeks making this happen!7 12 thinking thinks

One Week, Just One Week…

5 Jul

Design 9The theater is quiet this weekend, just the tech mice scurrying about with too much to do and opening night baring down in just one week. The 4th of July holiday has given the actors a four day break and on Monday they will return, rusty and, hopefully, ready for a long, stressful, and tiring four days of final rehearsals.

Last Monday the band took their place in the pit and for the first time the actors had live music to work with. There were fits and starts as the real music is at a slightly different tempo, or the lead in has a different intonation, than the actors are used to hearing on the recorded version . Sometimes the actor and sometimes Steve, the pit band director, say “oh sorry, I missed the cue there,” but nobody really needs to be sorry, it is the nature of the rehearsal. Steve throws out some suggestions, the musicians try something, the actor adjusts, and they pick up where they left off.

7 3 at the edge of the pitThe good news is they made it through the entire show on Monday evening. We couldn’t remember a previous musical where that had happened. Tuesday was smoother, although the actors are still honing their songs and forgetting a few bars here and there. Even though there is some pressure, every one is still laughing at the miscues and going with the flow.Backdrop

The cast has been forewarned that tempers will start to show as everyone backstage goes into “all business” mode. The young actors were told if the stage manager is coming at them, they better get out of the way. Set pieces and props, actors and techies, curtain pullers and helpers, clutter the wings and are all trying to get to their positions. Quiet chaos is the manta of the backstage during a show.

The sound tech, the spot light operators, and the light board operator will be safely tucked away from the chaos but will be facing  their own sense of pandemonium. Each has a job to do and this show, more so than some, has potential for wild lighting and sound effects.

7 3 WhosIn the end we will all face this final week of ups and downs, frayed nerves, and long nights with knowledge that one week from tonight, when the curtain opens and the Cat appears, what we love seeing develop over the course of the last eight weeks will have come to fruition. The audience will be there and they will be entertained by a small boy with a big imagination and a mischievous cat and all of the creatures that color this story. That fact will sustain us for one more week.7 3 Sound Board

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