Win tickets to this show! Read on…
Balancing my prompt book and score, yellow legal pad, and Chai tea, I dart between two ladders (bearing paint-splattered shop workers, detailing the archway) to stand on the stage. Our first dress rehearsal begins soon, and the DeVries Theatre is busy. Properties supervisors cross the stage with a tray of tiered glasses and a stack of suitcases; our technical director oversees crew members counterweighting the chandelier at the flyrail; show director, Bob Clements, is deep in conversation with a designer.
I’m the Stage Manager for this production of Hello, Dolly! at Cedarville University, where I’m a senior theatre performance major. I applied and was selected as SM last spring, and have been thinking about or working with the show in some capacity since; the time has both passed slowly and flown by.
The rehearsal sign-in I posted earlier tells me that so far, cast members have arrived on time. Failure to do so results in fines – ordinarily $1/minute, but twice that during tech week. Although the program here is small, the professors work hard and creatively to instill professionalism in us.
I visit dressing and makeup rooms, greeting people and checking progress, before heading back upstairs. The couple of hours before rehearsal begins have a strange pacing, a mixture of urgent and quiet. The theatre is busy as people hurry to finish tasks, yet the pace is controlled, and these few moments are calm. In a little while, I’ll start calling the time until costume checks, go over the lighting effects with the designer, and ensure everything is ready; but for now, I drink my tea and review the opening sequence of cues.
We’re a little late starting costume checks, but that is understandable for first dress, and I work to keep everyone moving. The costumers have done an amazing job with each of the thirty-eight cast members: the women are gorgeous in long, jewel-toned dresses and ornate hats; the men dashingly sport white tailed suits.
Student wardrobe manager, Amanda, a measuring tape draped over her shoulder, takes notes; I catch a glimpse of her spreadsheet, orderly and extremely detailed. Don, our eclectic and beloved design supervisor, surveys the actors individually, commenting on details many wouldn’t even know to notice. Pushing up his round glasses, he crosses his arms. “Where are his spats? He’ll need spats,” he says, and immediately a crew member rushes downstairs to pull some.
“Are the actors in place?” I inquire over our intercom headsets. After receiving confirmation, I prepare everyone for our initial cues. After delaying start time to accommodate for costumes and tech, we’re finally ready to begin. “Standby follow-spot… Mrs. Porter and F1, go.”
The musical director appears from the archway, a spotlight illuminating her walk into the pit; she bows before our imaginary audience, raises her hands, and at her cue the overture begins. I breathe and mentally run through the cues: Take follow spot out and narrow lights on ramp. Transitional lights. Curtain up…
The makeup room is busy, though not overwhelming, during intermission. Ben greys his hair, Charlee attaches facial hair, and Jessica adjusts her hatpins. “Ten minutes,” I announce, receiving a chorusing, “Thank you, ten!” from those in earshot. After refilling my water bottle, I return to the light board, put on my headset, and open my score to the entr’acte. Five minutes to end of intermission…
“Kate?” The light board operator gets my attention. “We’re using the chandelier here for the first time tonight, and I need to check the programming.”
“I’ll get the designer,” I offer, and call into com, “Carolyn, we have a lighting question. Could you run up please?” A moment later, she appears in her ornate costume and hat; Carolyn is also an ensemble member. Multiple interests and skills are common to the dedicated majors of our department. Jessica plays Dolly and designed the hair/makeup; Denise is an ensemble member, scene shop employee, and dramaturg; beside stage managing, I’m an electrician and student box office manager. Our program is conducive to educating those with multifaceted aspirations; many of us take both upper-level design and performance classes. Professor (and Dolly director) Mr. Clements stresses that we never know where we’ll have the opportunity for employment, so should be versatile and marketable, and always “do the ordinary extraordinarily,” no matter what that “ordinary” may be.
Listening both to the show’s dialogue and com headset’s hum, I call the lighting cue an instant before the waiters dance onto stage bearing silver trays. I say, “Standby for L53…” Stanley enters. “L53, go.”
“Standby for Follow Spot 26…” Dolly is going to arrive at the Harmonia Gardens restaurant; the waiters and cooks scramble into place. Stanley breathes his line and I see the tip of the feather from Jessica’s headdress behind the backdrop. “F26, go.” Jessica, in a sparkling sapphire gown and with a gaze that intermingles flirty and reminiscent, enters as Dolly into the light. She is beautiful, and the waiters see it, their eyes on her every movement.
“Hello, Harry, well, hello, Louie, it’s so nice to be back home where I belong…”
The men unite for their verse of the song. “Standby for L54.” Dolly crosses back to the stairs, t urns her head slightly, and looks out wistfully just as I call, “go,” and the lights shift with her thought…
“Let’s go ahead and get started with the production meeting,” I say, and begin to ask each team member for their feedback and discussion items. “From my perspective, I felt the show went well. We have a few things we need to adjust, but otherwise, cues and scene changes went well, and the show ran smoothly…”
A few remaining actors, just out of hair and makeup, shuffle through the theatre on their way home. During the next forty-five minutes, we discuss aspects of the show from costume design to dramaturgy, handling issues that arose and coordinating our work; when I dismiss the meeting, only a few are able to head home, but the majority of technicians stand and go to continue working.
As I go to the design lab to email our rehearsal log, I pass Amanda laying out snacks on a chair by the props table. “This is for the props crew,” she explains, “although you can have some, too.” She continues explaining that several of the students are each setting food out for a crew, to show their and the cast’s appreciation. Our department, in many ways, is like a family, and we look out for each other. The properties supervisors, exhausted but surprised, come over to take a moment’s break as I again towards turn the lab to get ready for tomorrow’s rehearsal.
Before the Parade Passes By…
The Story: Dolly Levi, adored by all (especially the waiters at the Harmonia Gardens Restaurant) is a self-termed meddler, but this time, she’s scheming to arrange her own marriage, to the well-known and rich Horace Vandergelder. In this optimistic and fun musical, Dolly charms (and meddles) her way into his heart, setting up a few other matches along the way.
Dates: February 3 – 5, 10 – 12; curtains at 8:00 pm, with additional Saturday performances at 2:00 pm.
Tickets: Cedarville University: Tickets
More Information: Cedarville University: Theatre Season
Win Free Tickets!
The Cedarville University Theatre & onStageDayton on DaytonMostMetro.com have teamed up to give you a chance to win tickets to HELLO, DOLLY! We will be giving away up to TWO pairs of tickets for the second weekend of the show! (February 10-12) All you need to do is:
- Share this article on Facebook or Twitter…just click the appropriate button at the top of this page.
- Fill out the contact form at the bottom of this post.
- Leave a comment, answering the following question…Dolly Levi is a matchmaker…Have you ever had someone set you up on a blind date? What’s your worst/funniest blind date story? (no names, please…to protect the innocent/guilt)
- The deadline to enter is 9AM on FRIDAY, February 4th.
- Winners will be selected randomly from all of the entries.