My my what a busy couple weeks of 8-15 hour days it has been! Over at the opera, we did our load-in, install, piano techs, dress rehearsals and have even had opening night! I’m currently sitting backstage during show no. 2, writing to y’all. I have so many good things I don’t even know where to start, so here I go! (Warning: You’ll have to forgive me for gushing a bit. It’s my very first opera and I have nothing but love and respect for the people who have made it possible for me to be a part of this wonderful team and I gotta brag about 'em a bit!)
We loaded our trucks up at our warehouse on Oct. 16th and if you've ever dreamed of playing life-size Tetris, come work at the opera during a load-out. It’s one long game of ‘How can we make this fit?’ and I hear Clayton always wins.
We started our install the next morning, bright and early. Seeing as it was a rental, we brought in a set supervisor who had installed the show in Vancouver years before to help us set it up. As the various rectangular pieces came off the truck and I looked at the set photos, I really had no idea how it would come together… But! As always, everything has a place and it came together mighty quickly thanks to our hardworking IATSE Local 210 crew!
Since I’m still kinda new around here (six months today!) and sort of finding my place during show times, I got to hang out backstage and watch it come to life. I really enjoyed seeing each of the departments bring their very best to the table and seeing how everything tied together. The exquisite costumes — particularly Rosina’s Carmen dress, the elaborate props (who knew one could fashion a tornado out of silk?), the enormous set being complemented by the mood setting lights (Put together by our terrific lighting designer, and my former instructor and program chair in theatre production at Grant MacEwan University, Geoff George), just everything. Even when I fall into my job a bit more, I’ll never be the one crafting any of these spectacular items, but I have to say watching each piece come to life one by one is good enough for me. (And if I can help them stay on budget, that’s great too.)
A small chunk of my week was also spent ensuring the crew had a quick breakfast to go along with their coffees in the mornings. Each morning I had planned to offer them something different, but I learned pretty quickly that most of the IA crew wants doughnuts over anything else. I adjusted my plan a bit during the week and ended up doing two doughnut days back to back, but everyone was happy and that’s what matters. I’m thinking that for the next show I may have one day where I bring a bit of everything and see what fares well, who eats what, and go from there. I remember the good old days of craft services in Vancouver and the crazy lengths I went through to get that perfect, so for now I want to get comfortable and then blow them all away! One step at a time.
As we rolled into the final rehearsal period of our show, I had the opportunity to work alongside our director, Allison Grant, as her note taker. I have to say, I have not written that feverishly in a long time, and through some miracle she was able to read my writing, so we made a great team. Having the chance to work with someone from the artistic side rather than the production team gave me a different perspective on what I saw on stage and I rather enjoyed it. It’s something I’ll get to repeat on our next two shows, Magic Flute and Lucia di Lammermoor, and I’m very much looking forward to it. Each director I've worked with, even in a small capacity, has taught me a lot and gives me even more of an appreciation for the work they do. Each one has a different style and different goal for each show and being fly on the wall when they make their magic happen is something I wouldn't trade for all the doughnuts at VooDoo Donuts.
Opening night approached ever so quickly, and it was time for me to run out to Leduc once again to rent a backdrop from Look Events for our Edmonton Opera photobooth! Our senior marketing manager, Cameron MacRae, came up with the concept and edited a gorgeous photo of Rosina (Sylvia Szadovszki) into a movie poster that’s used in the show and also for our lovely patrons to pose with. Big thanks to Nanc Price for helping us out by taking photos of everyone and to Kristy Benckhuysen (also one of my other awesome bosses) at Look Events for the back drop. The design concept for our next show, The Magic Flute, explores an East Indian motif, and I’m hoping we can design a photobooth to match that. If you’re at the show tonight or seeing it Thursday (Oct. 30, 2014), don’t forget to have your photo taken!
Those are some of my more memorable show moments, but I also got to run errands, pick up some old props, new props, pit extenders, bolts, adjust sponsor slides, and cook for 40 people (spoiler alert : I failed. Ran out of food, but I rectified that of course.) among many other things. It was such a fantastic learning experience for me and even though I felt like I always needed a bit more sleep, overall it was lovely and got me excited for the next show. I feel a bit more prepared with what is expected of me, and in true Patsy fashion, I made myself a list of all the things I did this show so I can prepare ahead of time for next show. Things will still go wrong, but that’s just something I need to learn to deal with. I can’t control everything and those moments of panic are often the ones where I learn the most — or at least the ones I remember not to repeat next time around.
Well that’s it for me for tonight! Hope you enjoyed this backstage look into Barber of Seville, and I will be back soon to post about my adventures in stage management over at St Albert Children’s Theatre. For now, enjoy this photo of the final scene of the show.
P.S. One of the other amazing things that has happened on this show is the opportunity to work (albeit from afar) with Edmonton Opera chorus members, Luc Tellier and Christina O’Dell. Luc was the lead in Young Frankenstein, one of the shows I worked on during my time at MacEwan, and we hit it off instantly. He’s a terrifically talented actor and singer and I know he’s gonna make it big someday soon! Christina is the sister of Jamie O’Dell, the man who got me through Carrie: The Musical. When everything was going wrong, Jamie was the one who kept me focused and his lovely sister has kept me laughing through this show on Twitter. We finally met for the first time about 20 minutes ago though we've been going back and forth for a while now. Like I always say, networking is a beautiful thing.