Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Summer Theatre

I miss doing summer theatre.

This summer the only things going on in the theatre have been the weightlifting event of the Special Olympics and five sessions of the freshmen orientation for next fall.
I enjoyed the Special Olympics and was impressed by all the athletes, but I really did not have much to do for that event.

We used to do shows every summer but have not done one in over fifteen years.
As I look back at summer of my summer theatre memories I have included links to posts in which I have written about them in more detail.

I did my first summer production in 1975 after my first year in college.
I returned home and lit the local community theatre production of No, No, Nanette.
This was the production when I got the best insight and design concept from the director when he told me to just “Make it Pretty”.

The summer of 1976, the bi-centennial, was my favorite and busiest summer of theatre.
Right after the end of school I went to NYC and for a month worked off-Broadway on four plays in rep.

After just a few days off I went out to Gateway Playhouse for a true summer stock experience of which I wrote several blog entries.
It was a crazy and wild summer working hard, learning a lot and having a good time all the time we were bitching about everything.
Stories from that summer start with this post:

The summer of 1977 was my first as a “Professional Designer”
I was hired to be the lighting designer for two productions at a small Long Island theatre.
The shows were Rogers and Hart, A Musical Celebration and The Sound of Music.
Details about the shows are in the following post:
The next summer was right after I graduated from college and I did not work on any play, well not directly.
This was the summer that I worked for Lycian Stage Lighting.

I was soon off to Graduate school were we had four shows in rep each summer.
The first summer I designed two of the plays and the second summer I worked on my master’s thesis and did time as the master electrician for the summer rep.
Details about my first summer at Michigan can be found at the following link as well as mixed in 20 other post I wrote about my time at Michigan:

After Graduate school I returned home to Long Island and did what work I could find in the area.
In the summer of 1981 I was hired to be the Scenic and Lighting Designer as well as the Technical Director at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey.
The productions were the musical Candide, Shadow of a Gunman by Sean O’Casey and Da by Hugh Leonard.
The first of two posts about that summer is:

I was out of Theatre for a year while I was working in a photo studio in NYC,  but in the Fall of 1982 I started working at the College at Brockport.
For the next seventeen years I worked on most of the summer production the college produced but I was giving a break the summer they did The Wizard of Oz.
I was glad to be off that year as they set off the fire alarms during every performance because they used too much flash powder and fog.

In the summers of 1994 and 1998 I got a chance to work outside  of Brockport again and do true summer stock.
I have not yet written details of those summers but they are coming up soon.
I the last few years that we had summer shows there a few that there was no show because of renovations to the building.
Cutbacks in funding and higher costs finally killed the summer productions at Brockport.

As I have gotten older I do not know if I could do a full summer of theatre as I did back in 1976 when I was 20 but I am glad I had the chance to do it when I did.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Dracula, 1992

Program Cover

Text to follow

Brighton Beach Memoirs, 1992

Program Cover

Construction Photos

Text to Follow

A Christmas Carol, 1991

In 1991 we did a production of A Christmas Carol which turned out to be the first of three productions the show over the next five years.
It was a big production with 40 members in the cast and both a choir and chorus of 25 each listed in the program.
To be honest I do not remember what the choir and chorus did, I think we had some singers backstage, but not 50 people.

The cast had many college students plus a mixture of faculty, staff, alumni and young children.
There was also several musicians who walked about the stage playing during the show.
The set was a bit abstract with several levels of platforms and panels from Stamping, Shouting & Singing Home modified and reused.

Program Cover

To the translucent panels 1 inch strips of 1/4 " ply were added every few inches.
There was some special effects for this show but not as many that would be used two years later in the next production of A Christmas Carol.

There was at least one funny moment during tech when some of the effects did not work and it left Dick St. George, who was playing Scrooge, just standing there looking silly.
From the tech table we all laughed and yelled out "Just look scared Dick and it will be all right".

We did the 6 regular performances plus 3 school matinees of the show and made a ton of money, so much that we decided to do it again two years later.
I do not remember anything else special about this production but the one in 1993 would offer many more challenges and stories I will share as I move forward in my Blog.

If any of my readers worked on this or any other productions described in this Blog have any special memories or stories please share them in the comment box.

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Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Diary of Anne Frank, 1991

I have written many times here how much I have enjoyed working on a particular show and I know that I may seem that I loved all the shows that I have worked on over the years, but the 1991-92 season at Brockport was one of the best all-around seasons of plays that I have ever worked on.
Each play in the season was well done, had great casts and challenging sets to work on.
We were lucky at that time that we had a great core of tech students who enjoyed working on the plays.

I was the second time while I was at Brockport that we did The Diary of Anne Frank.
We had done the same show about eight years earlier and it should no surprise to readers of this Blog that we still had set pieces from that production in stock and were able to use several old pieces in the new set.

Program Cover

We used several windows and building top cut-outs on the skyline upstage of the set.
The same big sink was used and I am sure that some of the same furniture must have been used.
Although it was not really seen by the audience we welded a spiral staircase to the upper level.
It was one of the first pieces that we used our new MIG welder on.

Unlike today we did school matinees for many of the productions back then.
I think that year we were able to do matinees for all four productions which added nicely to our income that year.

More details and photos to follow.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

"Loose Ends" April 2015

Another school year is almost over and we just opened our last production of the year.

We have three more performances of Loose Ends by Michael Weller.

There are a few more musical performances to do before the end of the school year.
More photos from this past school year as well as many previous years can be found on the college's web site:

The summer does not look too busy yet, we will host 5 freshmen orientation sessions onstage in July.
But first we will have an event that I have never worked on before.
I have worked on all kinds of plays, musicals, opera, dance, lectures and speeches, but June 6th we are hosting part of the summer Special Olympics.
The weightlifting events will be held on the Mainstage.
I just have to turn on some basic lights and a microphone or two.

We just selected our season of plays for the next school year.

The Foreigner
by Larry Shue
October 9-11, 22-24 
As You Like It
by William Shakespeare
December 4-6, 10-12 
by Jack Heifner
February 26-28 and March 3-5 
by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman
April 22-24, 28-30

Details to all these events are to follow.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

1991-92 Season

The 1991-92 season was the most successful season of plays that I have ever worked on.
Every show was very well done and we made lots of money.
Everyone always says that masking money is not the primary goal but boy it makes things easy.
The profitable productions help pay for those which might be wonderful shows but do not bring in any audience.

Our season in 1991-92 was:

 The Diary of Anne Frank

A Christmas Carol

Photos to Follow


Dracula's Cave

 Brighton Beach Memoirs

Construction Photo

 I am behind in scanning my photos and have many stories from this season but I will be adding them all soon.

This was a crazy time for me, lots of work and changes in my life and I really felt I grew a lot as a teacher, designer and person that year.