Season 30 is starting to wind down, we have one last week of performances of Greater Tuna and one more week of theatreschool classes. It means it is time to start saying goodbye to our five member Professional Resident Acting Company. Autumn, Charlie, Nicole, Patrick and Sam arrived in Charleston in the beginning of July 2007. They drove from West Virginia, North Dakota, New Jersey, Illinois and Wisconsin and moved into new apartments, met new roommates and within 3 days were teaching more than 60 kids in SummerStage.What an amazing 10 months we have had together. From Gershwin at Folly to Tick Tick Boom, Beauty & the Beast and Fiddler on the Roof to our family shows James and the Giant Peach and A Year With Frog and Toad these young actors have delighted audiences and enhanced our 30th season. So where do they go from here? Autumn Seavey will be performing at Hershey Park for the summer and then relocating to the D.C. area. Charlie Retlaff will be touring with Olney Theatre’s National Players, performing Shakespeare around the country. Nicole Nicastro will spend the summer at The Great Plains Theatre in Abilene Kansas and at Maples Repertory Theatre in Macon, Missouri . In the fall she will tour with Veggie Tales Live as Bob the Tomato. Patrick Tierney will be moving to Chicago to pursue acting a bit closer to home. Sam Weber will spend his summer at Maine State Musical Theatre and then perform with the Oregon Cabaret Theatre through the end of the year. For ten months they have given Charleston Stage and the Charleston community dazzling and moving performances. Along the way hundreds of young people enjoyed the classes they led and taught. We will miss them and wish them well!
Goodbye from Marybeth Clark, Associate Artistic Director
Last Wednesday, 90 minutes before a Great Tuna performance our backstage crew discovered that the laptop computer that held all of the thirty-something sound cues for Greater Tuna had been stolen from what we thought was a secure location. Since many of the sound cues for this show are voiceovers that cover costume changes, without the sound cues the show couldn’t go on. Our crew immediately called me and Mike Christensen our sound designer (thank God for cell phones) but we were a ways away . . . I was at a cocktail party. Fortunately I had many of the voiceovers on my Apple laptop but it was at home so my wife Jenny dropped me off at the theatre and then raced home to retrieve my laptop. As we waited I think we all began praying. The minutes ticked by and at last, two minutes before curtain Jenny arrived. I met her in front of the theatre then raced upstairs to the sound booth. Just as I plugged in my computer the show began. But then I realized I didn’t have all the cues! Some critical ones were missing. Fortunately, Mike arrived just in time with his laptop and the other sound cues and during act one we transferred those cues from his computer to mine using a flash drive. (The magic of technology!)Though there was lots of adrenalin flowing that night, the audience never knew of the drama backstage and the show went off, thanks to our great actors and crew, all without a hitch!Our prayers were answered!
Julian Wiles, Director, Greater Tuna
POST SCRIPT: The next day Mike recreated the sound plot, we even made a few improvements and the sound for Greater Tuna is now better than ever.
Today more than 1600 Lowcountry students delighted in the antics of A Year With Frog and Toad. Along the way, through the magic of this kid-sized Broadway musical, students learned valuable lessons of friendship and getting along . . . even when your best friend is all wet! Over 2000 additional students will meet Happy-go-lucky Frog and the Grump Ol’ Toad over the next two days at the College of Charleston Sottile Theatre. On Friday and Saturday April 11th and 12th at 7:00 PM there are public performances for area young people and their families.
Before a show “officially” opens in the theatre we have a final dress rehearsal (sometimes with a small invited audience) and in the case of Greater Tuna a near sellout pay-what-you-will preview. These performances allow us to fine tune the show, adjust timing for lights and sound and for the actors to adjust their comic timing. In the old days Broadway shows would go out of town for weeks of tryouts on the road in other cities before landing in New York for their Broadway openings. The Marx Brothers even created stage versions of their film scripts that they took on the road to fine-tune the laughs in vaudeville houses before they began filming. They said this helped them perfect their timing and figure out where the audience would laugh since they had no audience on their sound stages.For Charleston Stage and most regional professional theatres we can’t afford to take a show on the road so we have previews to help us put the finishing touches on a show. This is a very important part of the process for adding the audience is almost like introducing another actor into the play. The actors need time to get used to this new partner and to gage audience reactions and laughs. (And where they don’t laugh too!)Though you may not realize it your reactions as an audience member create much of the magic in live theatre. This is why live theatre is so different that seeing a film or TV show. No matter what you do at the movies or at home watching TV that actor up on the screen isn’t going to be affected. But in the theatre it’s just the opposite, your enthusiasm and response actually fuel and guide an actor’s performance. For Greater Tuna, preview audiences have really been playing their part wonderfully, laughing uproariously and adding extra energy to every performance. You can play your part as well, come join in the fun!Greater Tuna opens tonight, Friday April 4, 2008 at 8PM at the American Theater. Professional actors Brian Bogstad (right) as Vera Carp and Victor Clark (left) as Pearl Burris attending the funeral of Judge Buchner in a scene from Great Tuna.