August 12, 2007

42nd Street Photos

I call this: summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 11:36 am

We’re in the Money


Lullaby of Broadway

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

All photos by Herb Philpott.

August 10, 2007

42nd Street First Performance

I call this: summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 2:52 pm

Last night was our first show. We were sold out, which was a little unexpected. I heard last week that the Saturday matinee is sold out, but I hadn’t heard anything else in a while, so that was a nice surprise. It was our first sold out show this season.

When I arrived the stage was still filled with sets getting their final touches, and the marquees for the ballet still being wired. Eventually I was able to bring in the curtain and open the house, but work continued behind the curtain until pretty close to show time. Nobody really saw the marquees hung and lit until 1,100 people saw them all at once, and I snapped a picture of the moment.

They looked great, although they need a little tweaking to make the heights more varied. Considering there was no way to really check that before the show, they came out pretty well. They actually look a lot better to the audience than they do from the booth because the viewing angle is different.

The first show was very smooth, and everyone was in great spirits afterward.

This is Mugsy. He belongs to one of our actors, and makes a cameo in the “Gettin’ Out of Town” scene, as the fictional cast packs up their belongings, “dogs, cats, canaries…” and heads for their out-of-town tryout. He’s doing a great job.Since we had only a matinee, the evening was taken up by a party at a local cast member’s house, which was very well attended and a great chance for cast and crew to unwind and mingle after a hectic couple weeks. The party was a fiesta, and of course it wouldn’t be complete without a pinata. Somebody got a sun pinata, because “There’s a Sunny Side to Every Situation.” Here’s me trying to hit the pinata. I got in a number of good hits, but alas I was not the one to break it.

Night Crew

I call this: summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 2:32 pm

The night before opening of 42nd Street, we had our final dress, did some fixes and notes, and dismissed the cast around 11:00PM. By midnight our production meeting was over, and I was well on my way to going home. On the stage and in the shop, however, the crew had been working since the run ended, cramming in all the little details that still remained to get in shape for the first performance at 2:00PM the next day — painting, set repair, refocusing lighting instruments. They stayed until 3 or 4 in the morning, returning at around 10 to continue work and get ready for the show.

Before I left I took some portraits of our hard-working crew:

Ray touches up the paint job on one of the “Lullaby” stair units.

Christina lurks under the other stair unit, doing the same thing.

Jamie starts painting a column to match the pink marble style of the existing ones that frame the proscenium.

Who says the wardrobe crew can’t do physical labor? Joe sets up scaffolding.

Matt refurbishes the edge of the big dime to make it nice and shiny. Here he shows off a technique known in the theatre industy as “gaff-painting.”

August 7, 2007

The Glittering Desk Lamps of Broadway

I call this: summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 10:08 pm

As promised, here is a picture of our electrical stand-ins for the 42nd Street marquees. I didn’t get a chance to take a photo of them in the scene, as I wound up rather hastily calling the run from the booth tonight. By hastily, I mean that as soon as the Overture started we realized that even literally screaming into our headsets we wouldn’t be able to hear each other over the blaring trumpets and tapping feet, and after about 32 bars, I gathered up my calling script, pencil, God mic, headset, and cup of soda from the tech table and ran up the aisle to the booth, calling cues as I went. We often have this problem of the orchestra sound getting into the headsets and drowning everyone out, but for some reason thought that on this show of all things I could get away with calling from the house. We realized our stupidity right away.

So when we got to the ballet I realized too late that I didn’t have my camera with me to get a shot of the “marquees,” and anyway I would have been too far away to get a good picture. After the run Steph turned them back on for a photo op. She also corrected my earlier post which assumed they were taped to the pipe. Oh, no. The desk lamp is actually lashed to the pipe by its cord. And of course the clip light is attached by its clip. And I forgot to mention my personal favorite part of the whole display, the extension cord with the end that glows orange when it’s powered, adding a nice third light source to the mix. I’m going to miss all of them when the real marquees go up tomorrow.

Fun Things in the Shop

I call this: summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 1:58 pm

Just five minutes ago I was dragged skipping into the shop by our master electrician, Steph, and knew immediately what I was going to see.

Here Nick, Steph and Justin show off their creation. It’s been a long and complicated process to turn the giant marquees from the national tour (this is the smallest one) into something that doesn’t cost thousands of dollars in bulbs, and require more power and counterweights than anybody should really need. A bulk order of Christmas lights arrived in the morning, and even up close they look quite a bit like real marquee lights. They won’t be hung until all the marquees are done tomorrow, but for now we have an empty pipe with — I kid you not — an upside-down desk lamp and a clip light taped to it to represent the marquees for lighting purposes. It’s hysterical. I’ll try to get a picture of it.

Competing with the marquee builders for my attention is head painter, Matt, who is refurbishing the fabric on the Regency hotel unit.

The third and final project currently underway in the shop involved Scott, Tim and Ross climbing around on top of the “Buffalo” cars.

When I inquired what exactly they were doing, I was told, “attaching mirrors,” with the express instructions that it was to be pronounced “murrrs.” There’s murrrs all over this set, most of which are in need of something between cleaning and replacement. With a lot of the big fixes done, a lot of the little projects in the next two days will involve making all the murrrs look respectable.

July 31, 2007

42nd Street Week 2 Recap

I call this: summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 6:12 pm

I haven’t been posting very regularly since we started rehearsal. It’s been a crazy process and I haven’t had much free time, or the mental energy to relive my day after I get home. I have been taking some pictures with the intention of sharing them, so I will try to catch you up.

Now that we’ve got something very closely resembling a show going on on the stage of the Robinson Theatre, here’s what’s been going on:

First of all, let me introduce Jameson, our company’s “Spiritual Frog.” He sort of showed up one day and I really wasn’t sure where he came from or why he was there. His origins are still somewhat of a mystery to me, but he apparently originated with the ensemble men, following them around to various rehearsals and watching over them. When we started working on stage, he was placed in a position of honor between the center footlights on the pit rail, so he could keep a good eye on us. These days he’s no longer perched on the cardboard box, he fits quite nicely below the masking for the footlights, where I’m sure he will remain for the run. Update: he’s now on top of the piano in the pit, where his view of the stage is somewhat reduced. I’m going to try to get him back on the pit rail, as I think he’s helped us out on a few occasions.

You 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 feet.

And here’s a typical view from my corner of the tech table:

I don’t know where my headset is. I’m probably wearing it. But I you can see the little leather baggie that I use to keep my own personal headset safe and separate so it doesn’t get mixed in with the theatre’s. One of these days I’m going to get a nice hard case for it, as the baggie would do nothing to prevent it from getting crushed.

So tech has been going well. This show is all about quickchanges, and we took some time before our first dress last night to talk through all the major changes so the cast could figure out where to preset their costumes in the wings and work out the traffic. For the most part it worked. We had to stop only once, at the end of “Dames” which features a ginormous quickchange right in the middle of the number. Our goal for tonight is to make that change. There were a few other hiccups, with one or two people scrambling on late, but nothing to stop the show.

We had our sitzprobe with the orchestra on Sunday night, which I managed to get through efficiently while stealing selected people out of the dance rehearsal across the hall. The orchestra sounds great, and it always perks up the cast to hear them for the first time. I had arranged for the whole ensemble to come in and listen to the ballet, but alas time was short and better spent on stage dancing the ballet, so after singing “Sunny Side” they had to leave.

Tonight is our first run with the orchestra.

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.

July 24, 2007

Meeting the Dancing Feet

I call this: summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 8:32 pm

We had our first rehearsal for 42nd Street today. Some of the principals worked on vocals in the daytime and in the evening the full company came together for the meet & greet, then the ensemble learned their vocals, and then went to work on the opening number. They learned the whole thing and it would be no exaggeration to say they tapped up a storm. This is going to be a great company, and there are a number of dancers with whom I’ve done prior Reagle shows, but haven’t seen in a while and am very glad to be working with again.

Meanwhile on stage the crew is going full steam to put this huge set together. The set was just purchased by Reagle at the end of last summer, and this is the first time it will be used. It came in a bit of disrepair from its former owner, and this production will be an opportunity for the Reagle crew to work their magic and refurbish it so that it will be ready for rental to other theatres around the country. The sets, props and costumes that Reagle owns are a great source of additional income. Singin’ in the Rain went to Oklahoma as soon as we were done with it, and I believe they open very soon, and the gorgeous Crazy for You package, which is the original Toronto production sets, props and costumes (Robin Wagner, William Ivey Long — it’s amazing), has just returned from Ogunquit Playhouse and will soon be going off somewhere else. I believe the new King and I set is also being saved for future rentals. So getting this set in shape will have benefits far beyond just the next four weeks.

Large objects are springing up hourly. Here we have various pieces of the train cars:

At one point I came out of the shop and onto the stage expecting to look out into the house and found a giant wall had appeared since the last time I passed through. This is the “Maison des Dames,” a flown contraption of velour, muslin and hard flats with a set of doors that is used at the beginning of the “Dames” number. The front is quite nice, although it needs a lot of love at the moment to fix some tears and broken moulding.

I believe tomorrow’s agenda is for the big railway station set to be assembled.

Also, here are a few shots from the strike of The King and I.

Following the path of exiting scenery, from stage left past the prop table, off the loading dock and into the warehouse across the parking lot.

July 19, 2007

King and I Final Week

I call this: summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 9:34 pm

We are quickly coming to the end of our run of The King and I. A large chunk of the 42nd Street set has infiltrated the back of the shop, as seen at right. The metal things in front are the marquee signs for the ballet, which have a place in my heart as I built all the marquees by myself when I did the show in high school. We don’t have a lot of height on our stage, so we will have to see if we can use all of them. One of the big vertical signs is 15 ft. tall, which will fit, but may or may not look silly.

I have to explain this photo. A couple performances ago, a mysterious paper fish on a stick appeared swimming across my booth window. I found this an excellent piece of entertainment during a long show, and the fish made several more appearances. Eventually it was joined by a squid or octopus of sorts, and they would have some sort of a battle. Tonight things quickly advanced: the fish and squid were present, but were later replaced by a shark and a larger octopus, who also did battle. In what I thought would be the highlight of my night, the fish appeared swimming peacefully, when a can perhaps representing a discarded piece of trash or a toxic spill floated down into view, causing the fish to go belly-up. Little did I know.

It was during Act I Sc. 7, Anna’s bedroom, that I was minding my business watching the scene, when I detected another stirring below the booth window. I was looking forward to seeing what was coming next, but completely unprepared for what happened. In one smooth motion, a complete panorama of suspended sea creatures was hung over the entire center panel of the booth window. I didn’t even have a chance to see it all before I completely lost it. I spent the rest of the scene laughing with tears streaming down my face and gasping for enough breath to give my warnings. They were only up for a few seconds because the ends had to be held by hand. By the start of the second act I was ready to enjoy them calmly, and as soon as the Entr’Acte began they were put back up with tape (which is when I took the picture, which doesn’t even show the full width of the display), and I happily called the rest of the show with my new sea creature friends.

Also, a small note in honor of a Reagle landmark:

This the majestic Eagle Lake, sometimes called Lake Eagle. We’ve had a few days of rain, and the lake was in full form today in our parking area most used by crew and orchestra. This isn’t the biggest it gets, as the rain has been intermittent, but this is the biggest I’ve seen it this year. I made the mistake of not pulling all the way up to the edge of the warehouse and had to go wading to get my bag out of the trunk.

Just a few more performances and we’re on to the final show of the season.

July 17, 2007

42nd Street Pre-production

I call this: summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 3:48 pm

It’s our second week of the run of The King and I, and I’m starting pre-production on 42nd Street. On this, our third consecutive day off (I love this schedule!) I swung by the theatre to pick up some mail, and the casting worksheet and contact info for our 42nd Street cast.

My first step is to go through the cast list and make some kind of mark next to the names of people I’ve worked with before. These will be the first to go on the contact sheet, by copying and pasting from previous contact sheets. If I have their resume in my pile, I will double-check that the info I have matches the presumably more-recent info on their resume. Since I’m in no hurry, I will take the opportunity to update my personal contact files on my computer as I go along, so that my computer and phone will have everybody’s numbers on them as early as possible, before I need to call or e-mail anyone. When I get too many of them too close to rehearsals, or on the first day of rehearsal, it can be hard to find time to properly update everything. So I’m very glad to have gotten that out of the way.

Our director, Eileen Grace, has sent me her tentative schedule for the rehearsal period. I checked it for errors regarding allowed hours under Equity rules, sent back a couple notes and questions, and then will send it out to the actors I have e-mail addresses for when it’s ready. With that I have also started my calendar (see this post for the template) based on her schedule. I will fill in the details for tech and dress rehearsals after we decide on them at our production meeting.

Putting a show together is like a puzzle… the next ball I have in the air is the production meeting. Eileen and I have decided on 11:30AM next Tuesday, so I have now reached the point where I’m ready to send out an invitation to everyone else to find out if they can attend. But in order to do that I need to know who “everyone else” is, and there were a few I thought might be changing. A few e-mails answered the questions I had about sound engineer and prop master, and finally I’m able to send out the invitation.

With that straightened out, I was also able to make my “42nd Street Reports” group in Entourage, with all the e-mail addresses of everyone who will receive the report. See this post for more details about the report. I’ve even updated my rehearsal report template to change King and I to 42nd Street, so that will be ready to go on the day of the first rehearsal. The performance report is a separate template, so I can still use the King and I version of that.

The whole thing has only taken me about three hours, so not too much of a dent in my day off, but a big help in getting things ready for the next show before things start to get crazy. In fact, for both shows on Saturday most of the off-topic discussion on headset was about 42nd Street. Things like load-out, the lighting plot for the next show and how similar it will be, and how that will affect the time needed for lighting load-out and hanging for the next show. I was mostly just listening, but for the tech director, production manager and master electrician to be able to sort stuff like that out, it’s pretty helpful.

It’s a good feeling to be ahead of the game going into the last show. It’s an even better feeling once the last show opens to not have to worry about another show after it. But then of course comes the feeling of, “Oh my God, I don’t have a job!!” and “What do you mean I’m not getting a paycheck next week?” It’s very easy to fall into a routine and forget what a blessing it is to get a regular paycheck, especially one you can live on. I have one sort-of-job on the horizon, should nothing else come up, but I would love it if I had a real show lined up by the time I leave Reagle.

Older Posts »