|On the set of "Noises Off"|
Ten years ago, Asolo Rep had the opportunity to purchase the nearly 37,000 square foot building that is now the Robert and Beverly Koski Production Center. Vic Meyrich, Production Manager and Head of Operations since 1969, said it was a dream come true. Renting a scenic design shop for the theater on a month-to-month basis was nerve wracking to say the least. But, as always, it came down to money.
You might expect that in a space that size, the theater would have pretty much every prop it needs for a production. Nope. Each show has unique needs for props to be located, purchased, made or borrowed. These suitcases, for instance, were made by the carpentry department for the summer production of "Around the World in 80 Days." The barber chair for "Sweeney Todd" will come from a previous production of the show at Theatre Latte Da, director Peter Rothstein's home base.
|The front of the set for "Noises Off"|
In a typical production, scenic designers only have to worry about one side of the set. Here, both sides of the "theater" will be on view for the audience. Our guide David Ferguson, who serves as the Theatre's Technical Director when not giving tours, noted this essentially converts the set into a sculpture. The set sits on a 26' revolve, and we got a preview of how smoothly it operates.
|The back of the set for "Noises Off"|
"Will the set fit into the allocated backstage space?" one savvy theatergoer asked. "We don't know yet," Ferguson responded with a laugh. But he assured us this contingency had been planned for by the team. A portion of the floor of the set can be taken up if need be.
The rehearsal process is also a bit more complicated than usual for "Noises Off." For most shows, the actors rehearse in the studio adjacent to the production area. But the set is such an integral part of "Noises Off" that rehearsals in the faux theater are required. I'm not sure how they're handling the noise factor; it was difficult to hear some of Ferguson's explanations with drills and power saws at work all around us. But I'm confident they've figured out a work-around.
And speaking of rehearsals, fundraising is ongoing for a new state of the art rehearsal complex. One challenge of the current space is the ceiling height. Take, for instance, rehearsals for "Evita." Ana Isabelle/Eva climbing those amazing stairs to sing "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" was an incredible moment in the show. Not so much during rehearsals, though, when Ana had to crouch at the top of the stairs and belt out the number.
As always, getting a peek behind the scenes at what's involved in bringing a show from the page to the stage was great fun. "Noises Off" will run from March 22 through April 20. You can purchase tickets by clicking here. I can't wait.