Friday, May 27, 2011

CREW CALL: Little Shop of Horrors (September 22-24, 2011)

Crew sign-up sheets are now available outside of the Auditorium. If you are interested in being part of the actual production crew (the crew who runs the performances) or the stage manager, make sure you complete a form and submit it in the mail slot on the concession stand door. I need these by Wednesday, June 1st. I'll have a crew list by Thursday, June 2nd, and we'll have a brief production meeting after the 7th hour final on Thursday.

The set for Little Shop of Horrors (LSOH) will be a bit more complicated than our past September shows. There are two main settings - an exterior setting for Skid Row, and the interior of Mushnik's Flower Shop - with a few other single-scene settings that need to be interpreted. This is what Skid Row will look like:

Set rendering: "Skid Row" for WHS's production of Little Shop of Horrors.
 The center part of the set will be on a revolve. You'll note that we also have working doors to condend with. When we see Mushkin's Flower Shop, the center will revolve to look like so:

Set rendering: "Musckin's Flower Shop for WHS's production of Little Shop of Horrors.
 These designs are preliminary drafts of the design, and will likely change over the summer. Check this blog regularly for updates to the design.

Set work will begin on August 8th. We are well aware of the music camps that will be taking place during that time, so we know that you'll be occupied at various times during the weeks leading up to the first day of school. A more detailed work schedule will also appear on this blog site, so check regularly after the first of August.

Remember, the crew sign-up forms are due Wednesday, June 1st!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Ultimate Strike

Get ready for the ultimate strike!

Remember what I usually say before to all the cast and crew?

No? Darn ...

OK, but only this once, and I won't say it again - until right before the next set strike:

"Let's make sure we leave the theater space cleaner than when we started." (And yes, I DO say that before every strike. You probably just get love-struck when you hear me say "tear stuff down" and you shut out everything after that.)

With Friday being our last event - the Drama Banquet - we need to prepare the auditorium for the replacement of our theater rigging and curtains this summer. This is for real - it is happening!!

Next week, after school, I would like to have all the Performing Arts technicians come in for two sessions of your choosing. We will be striking lights, battens, any equipment (including that from the storage garage) and clean-up the entire stage area. We have a good start, but we'll need to finish the job before the last week of school. We are also going to mothball the light and sound equipment for the summer in the auditorium and the Little Theater as well.

The schedule will be as follows:

Monday, 5/23
Tuesday, 5/24
Wednesday, 5/25
Thursday, 5/26
Fri. 5/27

7th hour – 4:30
7th hour – 4:30
7th hour; 3:30-4:30
7th hour – 4:00

If you have a 7th hour free, or if you know you can shake loose (and PLEASE make wise decisions on this matter) I’ll be in the scene shop. Otherwise, come on down after school and join in the fun. Two sessions are mandatory. I’ll announce Friday as the date gets closer, but I’m guessing that no one will want to stick around when there’s a three-day weekend at stake.

If we need to work the following week, we will – again, that will be announced later next week.

This is a big job, but it needs to be done. I will announce this at the Drama Banquet on Friday night as a reminder.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

This Is Why I Don't Work for TMZ

Image credit: Huffman, Todd. "Paparazzi." April 23, 2010
Recently my wife Pat and I received a rare treat: sitting in the live studio audience for the May 7th Saturday Night Live show, where Pat's daughter works as a writer. We were able to shake the shackles loose for four days and have a great NYC experience. The SNL show - which is rumored to be the second-hardest ticket to get in town - was amazing. Even those who may be down on the current season as television viewers would have found the experience really rewarding, especially those of us who dabble in the technical theater side of things.

There were a lot of great moments during the trip, from a very cool Sunday AM in
Washington Square
in Greenwich Village, people watching and listening to a great NYU jazz combo, to riding bikes on a very crowded Hudson River Greenway. We ate our weight in great food, and I even took a half hour to sail one of the remote control sailboats in the Conservancy Waters in Central Park while taking pointers from a three-year old Polish boy. (I'm sure his instructions were crystal clear. I just didn't understand Polish.) The last main event was a fantastic dinner at Spice Market in Manhattan's Meatpacking District, which is what I will use for today's point:

Know thy culture, know thy surroundings.

First, if you ever do NYC and want to really treat yourself to an amazing dining experience, make two things: 1) reservations well in advance, and 2) additional room on your credit card. (It'll be worth it - trust me.) When you get there, keep your eyes open. We didn't know until about halfway through our dinner that this restaurant is a destination for those who are well-known, dare I say, even famous. I happened to look up as a series of strobe flashes went off outside of the main entrance for about three seconds. It took me a moment to know what this meant - paparazzi - before a trio walked in: a large body guard type, leading a pair who were wearing trendy fedoras. There was something vaguely familiar about the woman - an attractive blonde - but I figured that if this couple were REALLY FAMOUS, I would have recognized one or both of them. Since I didn't, I figured she was a socialite or someone who was nearly famous. The pair was ushered down stairs to a private room, and that was the last I saw of them. I should mention that my wife, who was sitting next to me, and her daughter and her boyfriend, sitting across from us, were in the middle of a discussion, so they didn't see any of this. I brought this to their attention when there was a break in the talk, but when they asked me what they looked like, I said "an attractive blonde woman and a guy in a goatee, wearing trendy fedoras." (That description merely eliminated only half of the population in Greenwich Village.) I assured them that I didn't think that they were REALLY FAMOUS, because if they were REALLY FAMOUS, I would have recognized them. We finished our meal while talking about other more important things.

At this point, I should mention that when there are reports of nearly famous to REALLY FAMOUS people out and about, there is a smaller band of alternative paparazzi that hang around with cameras at the rumored locations to catch a pic that they can keep for themselves or perhaps even sell for profit. I should also mention that they are about a step-and-a-half away from being full-fledged stalkers. To be polite, not all of them are in the best of mental health. It was one of this alternative paparazzo that plays a key role in this story, because of the question he asked us (more like shouted) as we left the restaurant:


See, I thought she looked familiar, but apparently she is not REALLY FAMOUS, because if she was REALLY FAMOUS, I would have ... recognized ...

Ah, I got nothin' at this point.

Apparently I need to relax my stance of never watching reality TV or paying attention to trendy things ... and perhaps listening to current music would assist me as well ... and reading the entertainment news might help, too ...

We laughed in the cab ride home that we had to rely upon a near-stalker to tell us that I saw Christina Aguilera and didn't know it. I wasn't certain that he was correct, considering the volume of his voice and the slurred speech, but we thought it was amusing.

The next morning, as we were waiting at the airport, I decided to see if I was really that vacuous. I Googled "Christina Aguilera dinner Monday May 9." Here is what I got:

From, May 9, 2011

Yup. That's them. That's who I saw.

I suppose there is something comforting about the fact that I don't drop everything when I see someone famous. You can also argue that if I would have recognized her, I may have come completely unglued and looked like a raving lunatic. The fact that I didn't gives me said earlier comfort.

I am also well over the fact that this lack of recognition of Ms. Aguilera makes me anything between "just shy of being hip" to "old geezer." (This freedom occurred many years ago when I dropped a "Captain Kangaroo" reference in my 9th grade class and not a single student knew who the hell I was talking about.) I can live with not being hip. When you teach high school, you're hip for about your first three or four months of your career. After that, no matter how you dress, what you listen to, or the references you drop in class, you're beyond hip. There's no great ceremony that comes with that, by the way. It just oozes over you, it's irreversable, and you're usually the last one to know about it.

So, when you go to NYC, spend a few weeks ahead of time boning up on the latest REALLY FAMOUS folks and their trade. Hopefully you'll come off looking better than I did.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

We Do Look Good When We Clean Up

Photo Credit: Lammers, B (4/30/2011). "Playtime Prom-py."
On Saturday, April 30th, two very important events occurred at Washington High School: the last performance of the Cedar Rapids Children's Theater production of Snow White, and the annual dress-up event known everywhere as Prom. Not only did they occur on the same date, but overlapped by an hour.


Yep. We had people in the cast and crew who also wanted to - and I know this is hard to believe - go to prom with their dates. (Where did I go wrong?) So, what does one do in this situation?

Easy. Get your hair done in the morning, do everything within your power to preserve the manicure, arrive at the theater just in time to take your postion and run your cues, get dressed up and show off the garb between the 2:00 and 4:30 shows to have your picture taken with your favorite people in the world - your theater peeps, climb back into your grubby theater gear, run your first few cues until well meaning (but experience-deficit) directors take over for you, back into the crinoline, sequins and heels, run like hell to the promenade that started a half hour after the begining of the show, and let the evening begin.

Normally we don't have this problem, but avoiding Easter weekend, State Large Group Music contest, AP testing, and other sundry events, Prom and Playtime Poppy colided. This happened three years ago, and the results were far less happy - a cast member and his date missed the Grand March by mere moments. No one - and I mean NO one - was happy about it. This year we were able to plan accordingly so that we wouldn't have a repeat of that sad, sorry moment. I'm happy to report all made it and had a blast.

Even though we techies live in the shadows of the stage, wear black and insist on having dirt on our hands, we do enjoy the momentary "dressed to the nines" moments. And just look how good we clean up.