Tuesday, June 21, 2011


The magical weekend of summer stock has arrived upon Gateway Playhouse: changeover weekend. This is the 3-4 day span starting about half an hour after the first show closes on Saturday night (in this case, 'S Wonderful) and lasts until opening night of the second show (Legally Blonde: The Musical). All of the technicians work crazy hours to strike the first set from the stage and then arrange and finalize the second set- and all the lights- for the next show in the space.

To prepare for this process, the carpenters spend daylight of the 2-3 weeks leading up to a changeover (while the first show is performing nights and matinees) building set pieces so they're all ready to put together. This was a huge set for the space and for our carpenters to finish. It's going on tour to Ogunquit, Maine for the Ogunquit Playhouse's production of Blonde, which opens in late August.

As an electrics intern, I spent the past few weeks running spotlight for the 25 performances of 'S Wonderful. I also helped repair and maintain all the lights used in the show, clean and organize our workshop, and work on the lights embedded in the Legally Blonde set (also known as practicals). Practicals can range from table lamps and flashlights used by the actors to wall sconces, chandeliers, flashing signs, and in this case, rope lights and belt lights, most of which are attached inside set pieces to make them glow.

Today is Tuesday of changeover weekend, so we're done striking the set from 'S Wonderful, done hanging and focusing the lights for Blonde, and the set is pretty much in place and ready. Tech rehearsals have started. These are long rehearsals where the cast spaces and gets used to the stage (like the technicians, the actors have not been able to prepare for the show on the stage with 'S Wonderful performing daily). These rehearsals, however, are primarily for the stage manager to organize all the scene changes and lighting and sound cues. The lighting designer can use this time to write or change cues; often they will come in knowing what they want or having already written basic prototypes, a foresight that makes the rehearsals less tedious.

Tomorrow we'll have dress rehearsal, where the actors will be in costumes and wigs, and the technical elements will be pretty much settled (in an ideal situation, that is). I'm running the light board for Legally Blonde, and while I can watch some of the programming of the cues and moving lights during this process, there isn't a whole lot to be done while the run-through is going on, which is why I have the time to write this blog. I also have a sinus infection, and my boss the Master Electrician, Jose Santiago, has been telling me to rest more. They're treating me really well here, with a trip to the doctor's and all. It's hard to sleep or relax when I know we're in changeover, though: it's the process that we all gear up for ahead of time and drink Red Bull and worse throughout; it's that time when you know you should be doing something or helping out somewhere. That's something that has taken some getting used to here, as opposed to Saint Michael's Playhouse where I spent the past two summers: there's a bit of a division between departments here, so even though the carpenters were short-handed on this show, we electrics interns weren't really sent to help. I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing, simply different.

Thank you for reading! If you're interested in the changeover process in theater, look it up on Youtube- there are some fun videos of the process, fast-forwarded. More to come on Legally Blonde!

Monday, June 13, 2011

'S Wonderful at the Gateway Playhouse

The Gateway Playhouse in Bellport, New York, is currently producing 'S Wonderful, a musical conceived and directed by Ray Roderick using only pieces by the famous Gershwin brothers. The show is composed of five mini-musical stories set from the 1920's to current day, and each revolves around the theme of love while incorporating historical elements and events that the Gershwin brothers experienced.

Running spotlight for a musical can get tiring, but there are many moments of this production that still entertain me. The highlights of the show for me include Matthew Crowle's comedic acting as Harold in the first story, and his physical presence and movement in a rousing rendition of "Swanee," which is one of those songs I will never tire of watching. Stephanie Koenig is the entertainment of the evening with the tale of Jane, a daydreaming makeup artist who learns to love herself. Deidre Haren and Sean Watkins tell a classic love story based on the 1951 American in Paris movie with a ballet number inspired by Gene and Leslie. And Ashley Betton croons some of the most famous numbers with a more melancholy story of love and friendship, set in 1950's New Orleans. All together the musical captures all those mixed emotions that come with life and love and sets them to words and music.

'S Wonderful runs through this Saturday, June 18th. For a memorable evening of classic American songs applied through the generations, order your tickets here. Up next at the Gateway Playhouse is Legally Blonde: The Musical. For photos and more, visit the Gateway's Facebook page

Monday, June 6, 2011

Start of Summer

At long last I'm settled in enough to post a new blog! Since my last post, I traveled for over 24 hours to get home to Vermont, which luckily enough was a fairly straightforward trip and my luggage didn't get lost or anything. I spent two days at home unpacking, repacking, seeing friends, spending time with family, and avoiding rain and huge lightning storms...and then drove 7 hours down to Long Island to start my summer internship!

This summer I'm interning at the Gateway Playhouse, a summer stock theater in Bellport outside of the city. I've been here for one week and have already gone through an overnight changeover and tech rehearsals. We opened 'S Wonderful last Wednesday, the second show of the summer. 'S Wonderful is a Gershwin tribute musical that tells love stories through the generations with the famous songs.
Photo of Harold in 'S Wonderful: Taken from the Gateway facebook page
It's really a fun show. I'm running spotlight, being an electrics (lighting) intern, and this week and during the tech I got to do a lot of hands-on work with hanging lighting instruments, circuiting and cabling things, working on wiring, troubleshooting problems, replacing bulbs... the inventory here is pretty big and involves moving lights and color scrollers, so hopefully I'll get a little more experience in with those this summer.

One last thing that's happened in the past week and a half or so since I've arrived back in the U.S.A. is that my boyfriend Mike and I broke up :( it's been pretty discouraging to have made it so far, only to find that the distance did more damage than I knew. Being at work helps, but it still doesn't really feel real, and I feel naive to keep hoping so much. As my family says, keep looking to the future, and you never know what will happen.