It’s 1:30 a.m. I just got back from tour number two. This time the show was about 90 minutes out of town. Not too bad really, but when you’ve only had 4 hours of sleep, 6:00 a.m. comes very early. I actually figured out today that I’ve only had 7.5 hours of sleep in the last two days. As someone who needs his sleep, this is not working for me. I found myself grumpy and irritable all day. I luckily knew why I was in a bad mood and so didn’t take it out on anyone.
There is not as much to tell today about the show. We got to the theatre around 8:30. As we were lead inside by the little old lady who runs the place we were amazed at what lay before us. The theatre is a beautiful, mostly restored vaudeville house. From what we were told today, the renovations have been going on since the theatre was donated to the city in 1989. For the most part it’s a beautiful facility and the audiences love it.
This is the lobby.
A different view of the lobby.
A shot of the stage with a “show” drop in. Notice the flags. We were not allowed to move them for the show.
A shot of the house. It’s much prettier when all the lights aren’t on at 100%.
Another shot of the “house.”
A photo of the chandelier that hangs in the middle of the domed ceiling.
I do not love this theatre.
The theatre was built in 1929. And some of the lighting equipment being used today is original to the building and must be used to make the lights work. I was told to ask nicely whenever I wanted the antiquated light board to bring up the lights and it just might comply. If not, well I could just try again. The “it might work method” is not the best for designing lights for a show. The new equipment that has been purchased was probably picked up in 1982. It functions but barely. And the lights are all the wrong size. One stage light produces a beam big enough to cover the whole stage and therefore doesn’t actually have any intensity when it gets to the stage. This is a little bit of a problem when you are lighting a big musical with many, many daytime scenes. Oh, and there’s not very much equipment. If you read yesterday’s post you know I mentioned that the stage was quite a bit smaller yesterday. Today– the opposite. It was about 10 feet bigger than what we are used to. This is fine for the actors. But I was only provided 20 lights to light the whole show. So I guess in hindsight it was a good thing that one light was big enough to cover the whole stage.
Here’s a picture of the lighting control board used to run half of my show tonight.
I might mention also that if the controls don’t engage fully. And they never do. The lights flicker until its fixed. Ah, modern technology.
The fly system, which is the system that allow scenery to be flown out above the stage is also original to the building. Without getting into too much technical information. The only way to use it is to load your scenery on the pipe and then have three or four very strong guys pull it all the way into the air above the stage so that the counterweights can be added on the floor. Usually they are added in the air so that the scenery is still on the ground. Eliminating the danger of heavy scenery falling on the crew or actors.
Typically the curtains that mask the backstage area from the audience are black. In theatre we assume anything black doesn’t exist. This is the reason the crew is dressed in black and the back stage area is painted black. In this theatre though the curtains are not black. The first set of curtains is red. The second set of curtains are a sort of ocher color and look like they came from your grandmother’s house with this detailed pattern in them. The third set of curtains are bright gold and velour and are dry rotted so pieces of it are falling off. And the fourth and final set of curtains are black and look like they should. So trying to achieve any unified look in the space is impossible and trust me when I say if ANY light hits a ocher or gold curtain it doesn’t go away. It shines like the sun. Which is just what you want in the 5 or 6 night time scenes that we have.
To use my term of the day “typically” upstage there is what’s referred to as a cross over. It allows the actors the ability to cross from one side of the stage to the other without being seen. (I just spelled “seen” as “scene”. I think I’ve been doing too much theatre lately.) This way if an actor exits on the Stage Left side of the stage and then needs to re-enter Stage Right. They can run around without the audience seeing them. In this theatre the “cross-over is outside. That’s right ladies and gentleman. The actors must exit the stage, walk about half a block, cross through and alley, come back down the block and re-enter a side door. This is not convenient for quick crosses. It’s even less convenient when it’s raining. As it happened to be today. We actually had to invent our own cross over, because the costumes are all rented and they can’t get wet and well when it’s raining cats and dogs, you must do something.
I’m too tired to continue with all of the reasons that the renovation needs to include actual improvements to the “theatre” part of the building. When it was all said and done the show was fine. It was what it was and the audience loved it. It’s just annoying when you think of how much better it could be.
And that my friends is my whining for the day. Tune in tomorrow when there’s bound to be even more. Have a great Friday everyone.
PS…the danger sign was on a door that I opened today…just to see what was in it. It contained scary 1929 electrical “stuff.”