Student Blog: The Show Must Go On!

A series of unfortunate events that led to an incredible show.

Student Blog: The Show Must Go On!
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How do a broken pit, unfinished set, and a sick actor result in six incredible performances of Urinetown (the musical!)? Love, determination, and a bit of theatre magic!

Everyone who has been involved in a production, especially a musical, knows the stress of tech week. In addition to being a draining week with minimal sleep and lots of coffee, things always just seem to go awry. No matter how ready you feel, there are always unforeseen hiccups that force you to adjust. Urinetown tech week was no different. We were so prepared. We had a sitzprobe a few weeks prior, and our pit orchestra was fantastic. All costume fittings were finished, and the dressing rooms were prepared. Our talented Stage Manager, design team, and stage crew were ready to lead us through the week… 

The week leading up to tech weekend began, everything started to crumble. The orchestra pit, which is original to the building, began to act up. After the smell of gas filled our rehearsal space, maintenance informed us that there was hydraulic fluid (fitting, for those of you who know Urinetown) leaking from the mechanism that raised and lowered the pit. The pit wouldn’t move from its location, but it was stuck at the top of its track, so we were able to largely continue as usual. Luckily, maintenance was able to fix it. The day before tech weekend, the pit broke again – this time at the bottom of its track. Not only did this create a massive hole at the front of the stage, but it halted progress in most design areas. The lighting designer and electricians were unable to reach the downstage electrics, the sound designer and A1 were unable to finish setting up the orchestra, and the scenic designer and technical director were hindered in their construction and painting. It also messed up our rehearsal schedule because it was unsafe for us to walk or dance too far downstage. 

Because of the delays, we were forced to delay our tech weekend by a day and cancel our opening night (it became a final dress rehearsal/first preview). Instead of a full day of cue-to-cue on Saturday, the whole cast came together to finish the set and lighting. Thanks to an efficient day of work, we were able to begin tech on Sunday. 

After a successful “tech weekend” (Sunday and Monday), we were excited to jump into dress rehearsals. The next curve ball came when we got the news that one of the lead actors, playing Caldwell B. Cladwell, was not feeling well and would not be at rehearsal. That night, Cladwell was played by our assistant stage manager. The next day, the actor returned, but with a mask and no voice. For the remainder of the week, a faculty member sat on the edge of the stage, reading Cladwell’s lines as the actor walked around the stage as if he was speaking. For our final dress/first preview, our spotlight coordinator (who also happens to be a talented actor in the department) joined team Cladwell, singing his part in each of the songs. 

Our small audience for that preview performance was incredible. After a stressful week, they reminded us how fun and lively the show is. We went into our next six shows with excitement and full hearts (and a healthy Cladwell!). Though this was a very abnormal tech experience, it added to my appreciation for everyone’s hard work and dedication to the arts. The show must go on!


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