This weekend we “teched” for the upcoming production of Bad Dates at the American Theatre. Now for those of you who don’t know what that means, it’s part of the rehearsal process when the lights, sound, scenery and costumes are added to the long rehearsal process. Typically this can be a very long and grueling process with many stops and starts and going over the same sections of the show many times until all the elements are just right. But by comparison, this weekend was a breeze. (It helped that actress Beth Curley is the only actor in the show and she’s a trooper.) We moved into the American Theatre on on Friday morning last week and by Saturday evening’s first rehearsal onstage, we ‘d constructed a great replica of a bedroom in a New York City apartment. All the lights have been focused and the light cues written, the sound cues were ready complete with “teeny-bopper” music blaring from offstage in the direction of the daughter’s bedroom. Now don’t get me wrong, much preplanning has gone into this show in order for this process to go so smoothly. We have spent weeks planning and building the set, gathering the furniture and the shoes. Boy, have we been gathering shoes. The woman in this show is supposed to have over 600 pairs of shoes, so we have been scouring the thrift stores and calling in favors from our friends and family to get enough shoes and shoe boxes to fill the stage. In addition to the plethora of shoes, we have also been “counter-feiting” hundreds of thousands of dollars of fake money and assembling a collection of fashion magazines and beauty products for the show. Now it is Monday afternoon, we have our first audience on Wednesday evening. Other than the distractions of hearing the first 8 counts of every sound cue over and over again, as Mike works to perfect the preshow music, this afternoon has been rather relaxing filled with arranging the last 50 or so pairs of shoes around the set and putting finishing touches on the props. Too bad all the shows can’t all be this much fun during the tech process.
Stefanie Christensen, Set Designer for Bad Dates
“Yes! They’re Working on the Seats!” Those were the first words from Carl Tarpley, Project Manager for the City of Charleston’s $20 million dollar renovations of the Historic Dock Street Theatre. This was welcome news to Charleston Stage staffers who toured the construction site today. There will be all new seats upstairs, comfortable ones, with padded seats and arms. Downstairs we will still have the benches but they are being reworked to add padding to the backs and to make them more comfortable overall. But that’s down the road, all of the seats and most of the plaster has been removed from the interior. This is to make way for strengthening and earthquake-proofing the walls with steel latticework. New wiring, plumbing and air conditioning ducts are being installed as well. There’s much good news. There will be larger and more comfortable restrooms and three elevators which will make the will the entire building handicapped accessible. Backstage we’ll have more room onstage since old stairs and air conditioning ducts are being relocated. We’ll also have new dressing rooms. Much of the theatre, however, when its all put back together, will look much as it did before, preserving the wonderful historic ambience of this great landmark. Reopening is scheduled for May 2010. From time time time we’ll return to the construction site and provide you updates here on the Charleston Stage backstage blog.
Julian Wiles, Producing Director
Below you’ll see views of the facade, the stage area viewed from the balcony, steel wall reinforcements in the lobby, the courtyard (which will be re-landscaped when it’s done), and Stefanie and Mike Christensen, Charleston Stage’s set and property designers inspecting the new stage area.
Last night was the Designers Run for Bad Dates. A Designer’s Run is the first runthru when actors (in this case actress Beth Curley all by herself) go through the whole play with all their lines memorized for the first time. Beth did a great job by the way. The Designer’s Run allows the designers (set, costume, lighting, sound, and prop designers) to see the show and look for costume changes, when lights change, when sound effects and music are needed, what props are needed (more ladies’ shoes in this case) and how the set works. A Designer’s Run is an exciting time because it’s when we see a show on its feet for the first time. Often there are many surprises. For me the biggest surprise was that though Bad Dates is a comedy it has moving and poignant moments too. Theresa Rebeck, who many will remember as co-author of Omnium Gatherum which we produced a few years ago, has a wicked sense of humor but a great love of character too. Beth and director Megan Link are well on their way in bringing Holly, this quirky rebounding divorcee to life and in finding the many special moments in this offbeat, off-kilter but delightful slice-of-real life play.
Julian Wiles, Producing Artistic Director
This past Saturday I came into our Charleston Stage Mt. Pleasant offices and studios and though it was Saturday, things were buzzing. In our administrative office, Judy Halberda, our Director of Finance was printing out W-2’s (tax season is here) . . . she printed over 100 which means we’ve had over 100 people working for Charleston Stage this past year, actors, technicians, scenic artists, administrative, staff and more. Next door in Studio One there was a spirited rehearsal for the off Broadway comedy, Bad Dates which opens February 1 at the American Theatre. Actress Beth Curley (who by day is our Box Office Manager) was doing her first runthru offbook (memorized) as Guest Director Megan Link and TheatreWings apprentice stage manager Heather Jones looked on. Beth was doing a great job. This is a one woman show and there are a LOT of words. (Funny words I might add). Down the hall in another rehearsal room, our five professional acting interns (Sam, Autumn, Charlie, Patrick, Nicole) were putting more than a dozen theatreschool students through their paces for a showcase of songs from Broadway Musicals through the ages. In only two weeks these talented kids put together a singing and dancing review of over a dozen showstoppers which they presented to a packed house of family and friends at 10:30. And me, I was actually in room number four learning how to do this blog, the first of many, which I hope will give you a glimpse of the workings of Charleston Stage. As you can see from this one busy Saturday morning there are many facets to Charleston Stage, rehearsing, performing, teaching, learning and of course the all important business side too. Every room was bursting at the seams with excitement and creativity.
Julian Wiles, Producing Artistic Director