Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pride & Prejudice - A Backstage Review

Last summer my partner, Pierre, and I were introduced to the delights of the theatre. Not that we hadn't enjoyed attending a number of plays over the years. We had indeed; however, both of us had avoided drama classes like a proverbial pandemic. Little did we know that joining the crew of Dangerous Liaisons at Ottawa Little Theatre would infect us with the "theatre rat" bug. (Admittedly, I have a worse case than Pierre.) A caution to our non-theatre friends: we may now be contagious.
Val, Mike, me, and Pierre

Fast forward a few months from that auspicious (perhaps fated) beginning....

We were thrilled to see that OLT's fabulous 100th Season lineup included a production of one of our favourite stories: Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice. Soon thereafter we learned that Geoff Gruson -- Dangerous Liaisons' director, and one of only two that we'd worked under -- was also directing P&P. We definitely wanted to work the show. (Besides, how could P&P resist doing P&P ?)

Lounging in our living room with dear friend Val Bogan (who's celebrating 25 years of volunteering at the OLT this month) after a big meal and a bottle of delicious Australian Shiraz, we found ourselves nodding Yeah. Sure. We can do that... to her suggestion that we were ready to take on the responsibility of Set Crew Chiefs.

(Caution #2: Val and our mutual friend, Mike Heffernan, were our original [dare I say intentional?] bug-carriers. Just so you know.)

OLT Stage Manager, Jim Hogan
Now we are nearly half-way through the run of this incredible production, and the hardest part of our role is finished. With the support of Val and Stage Manager, Jim Hogan, we gathered an amazing team of 16 volunteers. After rallying them to rehearsals, our "Star Crew Members" follow Pierre's five meticulously choreographed and coached set changes between beautifully acted scenes.

The sharply-clad set crew turns periactoids (three-sided towers depicting three different rooms), flies walls and curtains in and out, and moves furniture to subtly marked spots on the stage. They do this while three or four props people are also setting and removing vases, tea-sets, pillow, throws, and chotskies. With amazing grace and finesse, I might add. And last night, they even garnered unexpected audience applause.

Grey, Meghan, Don, Mihee, Nadine, Pierre
Paul and Sharon
Barb, Caroline, Chrisy, Don, Grey, Jennifer, Maha, Mihee, Mike, Meghan, Nadine, Patti, Paul, Rich, Sharon, and Val -- We are so proud of your contributions to this play, and look forward to the remaining ten performances!

Since Geoff's goal (and audiences' preference) was for our team to squeeze these graceful moves into the briefest time-periods possible, our little pieces of P&P soak up a little under four minutes of audience-watching time and five minutes of intermission behind-curtain time.

The remainder of the two hours is filled by a perfectly-chosen and unbelievably talented cast who bring the well-known characters of the Bennets, Lucases, and Bingleys, Mr. Collins, Col. Fitzwilliams, Lady Catherine De Bourg and Mr. Darcy to life. It has been a treat getting to know the actors and watching them evolve from reading their lines to becoming their characters.

Kim and Purni - props
Every nights' audience has laughed and applauded throughout the show, and reviews of all parts of it--including our scene changes!--have been glowing. Bravo to Geoff for envisioning such a delightful version of this play, and to each cast and crew member for bringing that vision to light.
Paul, Val, Meghan, and Chrisy

Performances run Feb 12 - Mar 2, Tuesday through Saturday -- curtain time at 8:00, and one matinee this Sunday, Feb 24 -- curtain time 2:00.

For tickets and information, visit Ottawa Little Theatre - Pride & Prejudice Hope to see you at the show!
P.S. While you're on the OLT's website, do check out the remaining five shows of the 100th Season. With one play from each of its 10 decades, there's sure to be at least one more that draws you to the theatre. And you never know... you may even catch the bug, and be tempted to join us in the wings. :-)

1 comment:

P.G.E. said...

Just heard that there are only a few seats left for this Friday and Saturday's shows, and the matinee is completely sold out! Only one last week in the run. :)