July 25, 2007

Allentown, We Have a Problem

I call this: summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 10:15 pm

M.J. demonstrates why the railway station is just a little too tall.

That’s the platform the cast is supposed to enter on. We knew what was going to happen as soon as the set was unloaded, but today the crew assembled the station stair unit, giving a visual element to the assessment that it’s HUUUUUGE!!!!

But I learned something today that made the whole set at least make a little more sense. This is a national tour set. See, I was under the impression that it was a large but second-rate touring set. So when I would hear things like some of the drops are over 50 feet tall, I remarked at the production meeting, “Where did they expect to take this, the Fox?” Well, uh, I guess they probably did. Maybe more than once, to more than one of the gargantuan Fox Theatres. Under its worn paint and chipped plywood detail work, I hadn’t noticed that it’s all made of steel. It also explains why certain corners weren’t cut in the design where you’d expect a touring set to be made more manageable. The railway station is a perfect example. It’s huge and there are so many pieces, why would anyone ever want to drag all that around and try to cram it into a variety of theatres? Well when you picture it on a national tour it seems perfectly reasonable. Of course the Robinson Theatre is not the Fox. Ideal height of a drop custom made for our theatre: 17 feet (height is a major inconvenience on every show). I believe the grid height is 36 feet, meaning a 53ft tall drop stood up on our stage would be several stories taller than the roof of the building.

I’m not sure exactly which tour the set is from, nor do I know anything about the tours of the original production of 42nd Street to make that determination, but the set has obviously been around the block a few times, so I wouldn’t doubt that it could be from the ’80s. I’ll have to see if I can find out. At any rate, this is one of the things we will have to figure out in the coming days.


  1. I am really enjoying this blog, Dover. Thanks for sharing your interesting summer stock experience with the cyberuniverse. With such a low prosc, why even put that huge stair unit together? Wasn’t it just silly to do so until there was time to refurb it?


    Comment by Anonymous — August 2, 2007 @ 6:52 am

  2. Well the set didn’t come with complete plans when it was purchased, so I think it was more a matter of not really knowing the best way to fix it until it was up. Also, there were several competing theories, and the Powers that Be had to approve whatever was done, which was easier to illustrate with a visual aid like the scene in that picture.

    It was a big undertaking, but it was decided to cut down all the steel platforms in the back to the height of that 2nd center step, so now it fits through the shop door and is not quite so ridiculous when people walk on it, although nobody can actually stay stationary up there during the number without looking silly.

    Because the set was built for touring houses and will likely be rented to regional and stock theatres similar to ours (although if they’re lucky, with a little more height), some permanent modifications are being made to make the set and drops more manageable for anything smaller than a national tour, which will be a great thing in the long run.


    Comment by KP — August 2, 2007 @ 7:12 am

  3. […] See, you can even see the tops of everyone’s head on the upper platform. […]

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  4. […] may remember our “Lullaby of Broadway” set that was juuust a little too tall. Here it is in tech, with the top platform and escape stairs cut down by a couple […]

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