There is an old vaudeville theatre about forty-five minutes from my house. It’s a great old space, and for years different groups have been trying to revive it.
A few years ago, a company was doing pretty well with the space. They had managed to survive and pay their actors for more than a year! Woot woot! I was visiting my Mom for about two weeks, so we decided to get tickets to go see their production of Noises Off.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the wonderment that is Noises Off, it’s a farce about the tribulations of putting up a show. First, you see the rehearsal onstage, then the set rotates and you get to see the backstage mayhem. It’s an amazing show, and the rotating set is the icing on the cake.
The old vaudeville theatre had a raked stage, and I was really interested in seeing how they could make the set rotate on an angled floor. Well, a few days before we were supposed to go see the show, we got a call from the theatre: they had cancelled the opening week’s shows, but we could feel free to come the next week. We were still going to be around, so we changed our plans and went a week later.
We got to the theatre lobby, and there were all sorts of chatter going on. Apparently, they had had to cancel the entire first week of performances due to technical issues. And by technical issues, I mean they built the set too big to rotate. They spent tons of money building a giant rotating set on a raked stage and didn’t do the measurements right. The whole thing was three feet too wide and in danger of tipping off the stage! So they had to cancel eight performances and take a sawsall to the set! They cut everything down and repainted the edges!
Even with the significant trim, it took ten minutes to rotate the set, and there had to be five people in the audience lifting the portion of the platform still stuck out over the edge of the stage to make sure the whole thing didn’t topple and kill the entire audience! I don’t have enough exclamation points to express the absurdity of this! Why?!!!!! Why would this happen?!!!!!
I only wish I had been a fly on the wall of that tech meeting.
“So, umm, guys. I measured wrong…oops.”