Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Theater people watching shows about theater

As a theater person I totally get sucked into shows about my profession. Glee is one of those shows. Despite the fact that it is technically about a high school glee club lets face it, those characters are going to grow up and do musical theater.

It doesn't surprise me that I got sucked into Smash on NBC.  This TV show about all the drama that goes into a show on broadway was right up my alley. As a matter of fact I couldn't believe I was getting sucked into this show because of how similar it was to what I was working on. There was an episode of Smash where the writers are working on a song about what the characters of Marilyn Monroe and Joe Dimaggio and they decide these two want to run away and get married and be out of the limelight. This was so much like a scene in End of the Rainbow where Judy says she and Mickey Deans should just run away and get married.  

After a while my realistic theater person comes out when I watch these shows and it becomes hard for me to suspend my disbelief on certain things.  For example I'm amazed at the sets the William McKinley High School scene shop builds week to week. For some reason I was completely unable to suspend my disbelief during Smash this week. Katherine McPhee's character, Karen  drops by Megan Hilty's (Ivy's) show to drop off a pair of expensive sunglasses and get her cheap sunglasses back.  She just walks up to stage door and the attendant tells her to go on backstage find the ASM(assistant stage Manager) Maybe we do things differently in the Twin Cities but I'm not sure I'd just be able to go to the stage door of one of the theaters here and be told to just go backstage and find the ASM.  I'm not sure I'd just go backstage on a set I didn't know and a show I didn't know to drop off sunglasses.

Later as these two characters walked through Times Square the wardrobe/costume girl in me couldn't figure out why everyone else had coats on while Ivy was dressed in her angel costume and didn't seem to be affected by the cold at all.

Maybe detectives and police officers watch Law and Order and think "Oh that would never happen in real life."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Audience ettiquite

I confess I don't get to go see as much theater as I'd like mostly because I am working at the theater when all these wonderful performances are going on.
But I go see shows when I can and I have to say there are some things that need to be addressed.

1. Turn off your cell phones, pagers, iPods that notify you when someone plays in your Words With Friends game. If it makes noise, turn it off.  Yeah, I can still hear your phone when it vibrates so turn it off. Oh yeah when you look at the phone during a show it lights up and that is distracting too.  It is distracting to the audience around you and the actors.

2. Sometimes talking to your neighbor is more distracting than that annoying noise they just made with their water bottle. Talking is loud and it requires response.

3. 90 minutes is not a long time to sit still. A lot of shows these days are made for the busy theater goer. The theater I work at has done several 90 minute no intermission plays in the last season. Here's the thing, this isn't the movies. The people around you have paid $30-60 for tickets. Do you think they want to have you get up in the middle of the play to use the restroom and then disturb them a second time when you come back? No they don't so go before and watch those pre show drinks. A 90 minute show gives you plenty of time to drink afterwards, hello.

If you think my rules of etiquette for theater are harsh you should make sure we don't sit together at a baseball game. Once at a Twins game a guy in my row heard me complaining about the people in front of us who apparently came to the game to get up and go to the bar/bathroom/hot dog stand every five minutes.  He assured me his kids would only be allowed to exit and return once. He was true to his word. I also don't let my friends leave when the Twins are up to bat.
Friend: I think I want a hot dog.
Me: Really? Now? Cause we're up to bat.
Friend: OK yeah, I guess I can wait.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Black nail polish, not just for goths

Patent leather shoes get used a lot in theater especially for those formal wear party scenes. The problem is sometimes they crack or get scuffed and torn up on the set.

My favorite trick for patent leather shoes is black nail polish.  It is great for covering up scuffs and cracks that may happen but unlike regular black shoe paint it is also has some shine.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Moving in circles

Last night the show I'd been working on for the last six weeks closed its run here in Minneapolis and we packed it up to send it off to Broadway.

In my work I've been incredibly lucky to work on a few shows that are headed to Broadway.

Packing up a show that is headed to Broadway and saying our goodbyes or rather our see-you-soons feels different than our regular closings.

Closing nights with our regular company members there are these conversations "What are you working on next?" "When are you back here?" We see each other frequently outside of the theater and run in the same social circles. Even people from out of town who are in shows often return maybe once every year or two for a show.

Packing up a show that is headed to Broadway feels different. First it is a different system and requires a different kind of organization to make sure all the pieces are accounted for and all the information is passed on. There is also excitement and energy.  Happiness for the cast and hope for a successful Broadway run mixed with a little sadness of letting go of something you've been working on.  Wishing you could go and see something you've worked on to its exciting destination but knowing that when the alarm clock goes off in the morning it is on to a new show or project.

In theater it is easy to remember that we move in circles and that our paths cross often because they are always crossing on this great round earth.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Being Prepared

I haven't updated this blog in forever but I've been thinking about using this blog to share some of the tips and tricks I've learned from all these years of being a wardrobe girl.

The other day I had a nintern following me for the day.  She is working as a wardrobe supervisor at a summer stock theater this summer so she wanted to follow and see how things were done.

She was asking about about what to do in wardrobe emergencies. I explained that a lot of this job is thinking on your feet and being prepared to spring into action.

During that performance a pair of pants shredded down the center back and then crossways across the seat.  I had to stitch up the rip during a two song musical interlude then do a better fix during the intermission.  The intern got to watch the excitement.

Stuff like that doesn't happen every day but it is the part of the job that is really hard to teach.  The being prepared, staying calm and thinking quick when things like that happen.