- Last Updated on 08:46 AM 04/25/12
- BY Willa Smith-Hatcher/SPECIAL TO THE GAZETTE
Putting on a show, any show, is a great deal of work.
Like all big projects, it also requires leadership among the group. The actors couldn’t bring a show to life without direction, vision and valuable feedback; the backstage crew would be somewhat lost without a producer rounding people up and scheduling things; and the tech crew wouldn’t know much about the cues and set pieces if there weren’t a stage manager to take point.
Halifax County Little Theatre has been putting on quality shows in this community for almost 60 years and is very familiar with the process and the load of work being undertaken at any given time for any given show.
What is so wonderful is that in the middle of this storm — the hammering, the paint fumes, the radio static, the emails, the late nights, the heavy lifting, the excitement and yes, the tears — there is a very touching, beautiful story being told.
There is magic happening on stage. If you enjoy theater, this is what it’s all about.
Martin Beekman, Sharon Brogden and Laura Francis (as director, producer and stage manager, respectively) have been holding the reins on this show since even before auditions — making plans, gathering volunteers, working out details and budgets and anything else that is required. The actors have brought their talent and dedication to rehearsals, and the crew has brought its expertise and work ethic.
“Greg Donner suggested I re-read the show as I was interested in directing again this season,” said Director Beekman. “I enjoyed the show, especially because it was more than the usual Neil Simon comedy – a lot of fluff and glib humor and not much substance. But this play, about an immigrant family struggling to make a new life at the end of the Depression, resonates with our lives today. I felt the script was worth doing in this light.”
Producer Brogden agreed. “The audience should expect to see the story of a family pulling together during difficult times and working together.”
“Each character has something they are dealing with, and what matters the most is that through encouragement, compassion and sometimes honesty, they can be there for each other. At the end of the day, all things are better when you work together than when you struggle through them on your own. Though set in the 1930s, this story could be for current day as well.”
Stage Manager Francis has gotten caught up in the storm as well. “As the actors develop the intricacies of their characters, I find it more and more difficult to stay focused on the technical aspects; I keep getting lost in their stories.
“This cast brought their A game! They have progressed beyond expectations and are bringing this great story to life wonderfully. It is a coming-of-age story told through the eyes of a 15-year-old boy. It is an affectionate, thoroughly entertaining lesson in overcoming hard times with warmth and humor. You can expect quality writing, laughs that come from truths, and characters who stay with you. It is a lot of fun, but it also delivers a lot of meaning.”
And it’s a lot of work. At this stage in the production, it’s details, details, details.
“There are many complex elements which need to come together to make it work,” said Beekman. “Clothing and furniture that suggest the period, a set which suggests a whole house, lighting that moves from one place to another. And then, there are the words, the many words, all of which need feeling and rhythm and articulation. So far, those elements are coming together nicely, but not without a lot of good work by a lot of good people.”
“It [The Prizery stage] will be transformed into a perfect setting for the cast and crew to put the finishing touches on and gear up for opening,” said Brogden. “It has been wonderful to see the growth of these performers from auditions, through the first read-throughs and to be where they are now as they ready their roles for opening. Hard work, dedication and a driven desire to be their best is really evident in this cast.”
Francis, as stage manager, has had a front-row seat for the entire process.
“Martin Beekman is a thoughtful, insightful man and director. Watching him bring out the very best in this already awesome cast is fascinating. His pre-rehearsal warm ups could be marketed as the most fun aerobics class in town.”
Beekman is focused on the final touches and the final product.
“Audiences will be amused and entertained,” said Beekman. “This is a pretty funny play. And we are hoping to do it well, letting the humor come honestly from who these people are and what is happening in their lives. But there is a deeper message beneath the humor, one of hope and growth and reconciliation.”
“I hope the community will come and see this play,” said Brogden. “It is wonderfully directed, and the performers have put their heart and soul into this production. Beautiful vintage outfits and a set that will be a multilevel home will take you back to a simpler time. Bring someone you love to see this heartfelt play about growing onward and upward.”
Due to some adult material, the show is recommended for teenagers and adults.
• The show continues its run this week at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. At this performance there will be a Theatre Thursday special, with a Buy One, Get One Free for adult tickets.
• The production’s final two performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday and at 3 p.m. Sunday.
• Tickets can be purchased at The Prizery by calling 572-8339 or online at www.hclt.org.