Monday, July 18, 2011

Gateway Playhouse Presents: Spamalot! at the Patchogue Theatre

Last week, Spamalot opened in Patchogue, NY, directed and choreographed by Keith Andrews. Spamalot is based on the 1975 film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" and won three Tony awards on Broadway. From killer rabbits to a disco-Vegas Camelot party, Spamalot keeps audiences laughing throughout the evening. Join King Arthur (played by Peter Simon Hilton) and his loyal sidekick Patsy (Jeremy Morse) and their knights, ladies, French enemies, Knights of Ni, and more as they hunt for the Holy Grail (and for various shrubberies, Jews, and damsels- er, gentlemen- in distress!

The biggest challenge about this show has been the distance. Patchogue is about 15-20 minutes away from the Gateway Playhouse, and getting our equipment over there, loading in and completing tech rehearsals, and now constantly traveling to perform the shows, is very tiring for all of us. Not to mention that we've gone into changeover and tech for Tommy, the annual student production, this week; splitting the crews and staff and stretching our gear thin.

Working at the Patchogue Performing Arts Center is definitely a new experience, especially because it is much bigger than most of the places I've worked. The theater has a lot of potential, and were it better taken care of perhaps the Gateway wouldn't have the biggest shows performing on its stage.

I'm running spotlight on Spamalot, which means I spend a lot of time in Patchogue (especially two- and three- show days). It's been very rewarding in some ways for me because this is the show that stood out for me in the Gateway's season when I first applied to be an intern. Seeing Keith Andrews again, a director whom I worked with on many shows at the Saint Michael's Playhouse, was fantastic. I enjoy the run of the show, especially with Matt Crowle on the stage again (he starred in my first show here, 'S Wonderful) as a Broadway-aspiring, tap dancing, cowardly Sir Robin. Almost all of the actors double roles at some point or another. I also enjoyed working with Doug Harry, our lighting designer.

To see the NYTimes review of Spamalot, click here. For more information on tickets, calendar, and who's who, please visit the Gateway Playhouse website.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Upcoming Events

Things are about to get crazy around here at Gateway! We are on our closing week of Legally Blonde: The Musical and will be striking the show this weekend. Our next show, however, will be performed at a different theater in the town of Patchogue; the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts is bigger and has had a long history with Gateway Playhouse, making it the perfect setting for Spamalot. We've started loading equipment in already, and this weekend will be like changeover on steroids because of the distance and the new space.

Luckily Tommy, the annual student show, opening at the Gateway Playhouse while Spamalot is running, starts a week later so we'll have a little more time to actually change over this space from Blonde to Tommy. I'm excited to be running spotlight on Spamalot, though it means lots of trips to and from the Patchogue theater and also that I probably won't get to see Tommy.

Oh, and to top things off...tomorrow morning the childrens' shows start! We have two performances of Cinderella tomorrow morning, which I'll be running lights for before Legally Blonde. It's going to be a hectic nonstop time for a while here, but that's what summer stock is all about!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Legally Blonde: The Musical at Gateway Playhouse

For the past few weeks, we have been preparing for and performing Legally Blonde: The Musical at the Gateway Playhouse on Long Island. Based on the movie "Legally Blonde," starring Reese Witherspoon, the show tells the story of Elle Woods, a blond sorority president at UCLA who follows her ex-boyfriend to Harvard, and finds her own path on the way. Our production was directed by Tom Kosis and Leah Hofmann.
All photos taken from the Gateway Playhouse Facebook page
Ruby Lewis portrays Elle's surprisingly touching journey very well. As my father said when he saw the show, you find yourself rooting for Elle, despite the fact that she's rich, from Malibu, and gets into Harvard with nothing but a cheerleading routine.
The Harvard acceptance is, however, the only part of the script that sticks out for me as positively ditzy. I learned I would be running the light board for Blonde and was apprehensive at having to watch and listen to the show every day, sometimes twice a day, but I've been pleasantly surprised by how not-tired I am of the songs and the story. It moves along at a fantastic pace and with a huge amount of scene and character changes by almost all of the cast, it's impossible to be bored.Our production also stars Brent Michael DiRoma as Emmett, Ruth Pferdehirt as Paulette (and Matt Nolan as Kyle the UPS guy, together they perform some of my favorite parts of the show!) as well as Kristin Wetherington as Vivienne.

As an electrics intern on the show, I worked on preparing some light-up set pieces called portals (basically false prosceniums) by embedding different colors of rope light inside of them. They are used during the show in several cues, especially the pink (of course!) with a glow that adds to the scene. The scenery was designed by Robert Andrew Kovach for the Ogunquit performance of Blonde in August, where our sets are moving next; we worked closely with Kim Hanson, our lighting designer, to get the lights in place and focused and into cues.

Running the light board means that I come in before the show and turn on the power, unlock backstage doors, turn on all the lights, and go through one at a time to make sure everything is working. Myself and the other electricians- one of whom is running spotlight, and one of whom is our deck electrician to keep an eye on things from onstage during the show- will fix things if needed before the show begins. Then during the play the stage manager calls the light cues for me and I watch from the booth for any surprises, in electrics or otherwise, being one of the only people who can see what the audience is seeing. It's a lot of responsibility, but I love it.

To see Legally Blonde at the Gateway Playhouse, check the website here. Also visit the NY Times review of the production here.