STAGE TUBE: Backstage Tour of Tennessee Rep's THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
Guest Blogger: Tenessee Repertory Theatre
It's finally here! After weeks of dedicated, detailed work and long, long hours, the efforts of all of our very talented company members have come together to create nothing short of a magical final product. Tennessee Rep's The Importance of Being Earnest has officially opened to stellar reviews and raving audiences and those who joined us before the show on opening night were given a little something extra to rave about. Our traditional opening night event, First Night Supper Club, was transformed for The Importance of Being Earnest into First Night Backstage. The set is on the biggest revolve sets Tennessee Rep has ever used and to accommodate it the stage and seating bank orientation of Johnson Theater was flipped 180 degrees from the normal orientation Tennessee Rep uses for our productions. This flip created a bigger more accessible backstage area than we normally have which afforded us the ability to offer a unique opportunity.
Immediately preceding the show guests of First Night Backstage were treated to hors d'oeuvres and drinks on the floor of the Tennessee State Museum in the ever so appropriate, theatrical shadow of its reproduction Victorian stage and were given an all access pass behind the scenes of The Importance of Being Earnest. All of those "really intelligent and dedicated professionals" we mentioned wanting to bring attention to in our first guest blog on The Importance of Being Earnest were on hand in the theater during our backstage tours to speak about their work on the show and to answer guests' questions. Traveling clockwise around the set, small groups entered the theater from the museum using the same path through the massive doors we used during load-in and visited Algernon's flat, the manor house, and the garden, and took a peak at the front of house, at backstage, and at the inner workings of the revolving set all while encountering members of our production staff along the way. The tour began with Scenic Designer Gary C. Hoff who shared the origins of the revolving set, the challenges he faced designing this show, and, of course, caulk. Then moved to Technical Director Tyler Axt and his explanation of what the stage was made of, what was re-purposed from the set of Larries, and what, or rather who, powers the revolving set. Costume Designer TrisH Clark came next showing some of the vintage costume pieces in the show, the area in which actors do quick changes: costume changes during the show that they do not have time to go back to the dressing rooms for, and how close in proximity this area is to our road boxes and prop table in the still tight quarters of backstage. Finally, guests ended the tour with Props Master Evelyn Pearson who pointed out what on the set was considered a prop, which of them were made for this show, and which ones had made appearances in previous Tennessee Rep productions. Those not satisfied with just a tour and taking up close pictures of the set were able to place the first bids on some of set pieces from The Importance of Being Earnest in a silent auction that runs through the November 2nd close of the show.
With food, drink, interesting conversation, and, of course, wonderful entertainment, the night proved to be as enjoyable and successful as a "Downton" house party. It was also the perfect way to celebrate the end of the massive behind the scenes effort required to get The Importance of Being Earnest to its opening. It's big, beautiful, detailed, ornate, hilarious, and playing until November 2nd. So take a tour behind the scenes for yourselves in the video below and then come to see The Importance of Being Earnest while those of us at Tennessee Rep take a short pause to let out a collective, accomplished sigh of "we made it" before we start working on our next great production.
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