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Pirates of Penzance

Posted in Uncategorized on February 27th, 2023 by Eric Appleton

Time flies! We opened Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Pirates of Penzance” back on Feb 14, closed it on Feb 19, and here it is Feb 28 and we’re already in technical rehearsals for Dancescapes ’23! Our production of “Pirates” was directed by Sara Griffin, with musical direction by Bob Gehrenbeck. Scenic design by guest designer Emily Allen, lighting design by student Trevor Brilhart, costume design by Tracey Lyons. The stage manager was student Moira Kowalski, props were designed by student Ryan Meverden, hair and make-up design by Nala Meikle, and the student choreographer was Bryce Giammo. Ruth Conrad-Proulx was the technical director.

We’ll start the photo presentation with Dr. Gehrenbeck leading the orchestra in the pit:

Early in Act One, Ruth sings to the Pirates:

And some revelry between the Pirate King and his crew:

The Major-General’s daughters arrive:

And sing. And dance.

The Pirates decide that the daughters would make good brides:

And a moment from the rousing finale of Act One:

The second act of the show takes place at night in a ruined churchyard. This was student lighting designer Trevor’s first go at a night scene — and an exterior night scene, at that. He had to find the balance between making it seem like night but being sure that the audience could see everything they needed to see. I think he succeeded in his efforts.

Act Two. The Major-General, forlorn in the the churchyard.

He’s joined by his daughters:

Policemen are recruited to dissuade the pirates from their dastardly goals:

Frederic learns from the Pirate King and Ruth that since he was born on Feb 29 in a leap year, he’s really only five years old. Such a paradox:

Everyone hides from the Major-General:

And a rousing number for the Act Two finale:

Now, on to Dancescapes!


Posted in Uncategorized on January 27th, 2023 by Eric Appleton

As I was adding the Pirates of Penzance production photos in the last post, I realized that I had failed to post any photos from last Fall’s production of “Grounded,” by George Brandt. It was directed by Bruce Cohen, with guest scenic designer Steve Barnes, guest lighting designer Colin Gawronski, costume designer Tracey Lyons, stage managed by student Moira Kowalski. The role of the pilot was played by student Nadia Wolowik. Funny how being the department chair makes you forget to do important things because there are a bunch of other important things you need to do. . .

Here are some photos from various moments in the play. I will have to apologize for not captioning them, as it’s been two months. . . However, we’ll start with the stage in preset.

Pirates of Penzance

Posted in Uncategorized on January 27th, 2023 by Eric Appleton

It’s the first week of Spring semester classes and we’re busy at work on the upcoming production of “Pirates of Penzance,” directed by Sara Griffin, music direction by Bob Gehrenbeck, and featuring work by guest scenic designer Emily Allen, student lighting designer Trevor Brilhart, costume designer Tracey Lyons, student props manager Ryan Meverden, with student Moira Kowalski serving as stage manager.

First, a visit to the costume shop. Here are Al and Moira working on costumes, with uniforms in progress in the foreground:

Here’s Nala working on another costume:

Light hang began this week, and here is student head electrician Alexis reviewing Trevor’s plot with technical director Ruth:

LD Trevor gazes wistfully into the camera as students continue circuiting lights. He just had a Vivid blow and die and needs to think about what to do, since he maxxed out the inventory and it is highly unlikely to be repaired in time for opening.

Also on stage, guest scenic designer Em Allen paints rocks:

In the shop, props manager Ryan builds a jig to cut out a base to build a second lantern:

Core works with another student in assembling a stair unit:

And finally, over in the Hicklin theatre Cody supervises a group of fellow students on installing casters to the the bases of the window wagons:

Perfect Wedding

Posted in Uncategorized on October 17th, 2022 by Eric Appleton

We opened Robin Hawdon’s “Perfect Wedding” this past week and have just completed the strike. Here are some of the production photos from final dress. The production team included Sara Griffin director, student Sam Ness stage manager, Technical Director Ruth Conrad-Proulx, Em Allen guest scenic designer, student Nala Meikle costume and hair & make-up designer, student Ryan Meverden sound designer, student Cody Diedrich properties manager.

First, the set under work lights with the act curtain all the open:

Student sound operator Michael prepping for the show:

Student costume crew person Al working on cast member Core’s hair:

An early moment, as Rachel (Erin McKee) wonders what her fiance Bill (Carter Waelchli) and his friend Tom (Harry Heinrich) are doing on the other side of the suite’s door:

The chambermaid Julie (Core Miller) delivers some truths to Bill and Tom:

A full stage photo as the complications mount:

The mother of the bride (Emma Dutcher) arrives:

And the mess finally drives toward the consequences:

Of course, there’s a dance-y curtain call:

Now we’re heading into the production of “Grounded,” our second offering of the season!

Perfect Wedding

Posted in Uncategorized on October 6th, 2022 by Eric Appleton

We head into technical rehearsals for “Perfect Wedding” tonight, so here are a few photos from earlier in the week.

First, some lighting work. Here we see Alexis atop the A-frame waiting for student lighting designer Trevor to check his paperwork. Two Intro to Theatre students foot the ladder.

Here’s Harry, up in the catwalks waiting his turn to focus a unit:

And then Trevor works with Harry on focusing that unit:

A shot of the full stage (guest scenic designer Emily Allen), with the grid lights on as focus gets under way:

Here’s Intro to Theatre student Grace running the light board during focus:

While Samantha organizes color:

Samantha is also the student stage manager for the production, so here’s a photo of her later in the afternoon, working on her prompt book in the green room:

Now, a trip to the costume shop, where with find costume shop supervisor Tracey Lyons busy at work:

Moira works on a dress:

As does Nala:

The last photo for the day features “Perfect Wedding” director Sara Griffin in class, working on some Shakespeare with some students. The door was open, I heard voices, stuck my head in. . .

Perfect Wedding

Posted in Uncategorized on September 28th, 2022 by Eric Appleton

It’s been a while since the last post, back when we produced “The Busybody” in the Spring. We’re now into the fourth week of classes, and barreling onward on our first production of the year, “Perfect Wedding,” directed by Sara Griffin.

Our venerable department chair, Marshall Anderson, retired at the beginning of summer, so I’ve stepped into that position. This means as I learn how to be an administrator I won’t be designing and working in the shops nearly as much. I also need to be sure that these blog posts now cover more than just the scene shop, but also the costume shop and other areas. I get to be the chair of the whole department. . . .

That being said, here are a selection of photos from construction work in the scene and costume shops! First, in the Barnett. Lights are being hung and circuited, the floor has been painted, and flats are being covered. Our guest scenic designer for this show is Emily Allen.

Here, Noah and Ryan just finish cutting a sheet of lauan:

Flat construction in the Hicklin theatre. Kemi and Cody instruct another student in laying out a Hollywood style flat:

Here’s guest designer Emily Allen washing down doors with paint to make them appear as though they have been stained:

Cody and Samantha align lauan on a flat, preparatory to securing it:

Here we have head electrician Alexis with student lighting designer Trevor communicating with technical director Ruth on dropping cable swags from the Barnett grid:

In the costume shop! One project they have taken on is helping the Music department turn old marching band uniforms into pillows as a fundraiser:

Of course, costumes are also being built. Here’s Nala, doing some stitching:

And back to pillow construction with Intro student Nancy:

The Busybody

Posted in Uncategorized on April 25th, 2022 by Eric Appleton

Tonight is final dress, and then we open tomorrow! The rehearsals this weekend went pretty smoothly, and the list for the shop this afternoon is pretty manageable. The biggest item is assembling and painting the doorway for Gripe’s house.

But first, let’s back up to Thursday and Friday and all the activity during shop those afternoons. Here’s Tori, working on the Spanish tiles to be mounted around Traffick’s front door. We’ve adopted an assembly line approach — laying out the design, and then building them all up color by color.

And here’s Tori again an hour or so later, putting the finishing touches on the tiles:

Here we see Trevor installing the French doors on Traffick’s balcony, and Cody and Mary installing safety railings:

Here’s a close-up of Cody and Mary working on the safety railings:

One of Mary’s projects as an assistant technical director was to build the balcony rail. In this pic, it’s installed for rehearsal. Mary is seen in the doorway, still working on the safety railings:

Here we have Sam, Sam, and Harry attaching the Gripe doorway base structure to its doorstep wagon:

During the “monkey” scene in act two, a plate is broken. Here is props manager Abby painting the plastic plates that will be broken each night:

A view of the stage late on Thursday:

At tech Friday night, here is director Sara Griffin talking to a group of performers during the fight call. You can see the Spanish tiles installed around Traffick’s doorway, and a partially complete frame around Gripe’s doorway. That’s Lochlain in the foreground, as light board operator.

And finally, a moment from Friday night’s rehearsal, from behind the tech table:

The Busybody

Posted in Uncategorized on April 19th, 2022 by Eric Appleton

Technical rehearsals begin later this week. Focus is done, except for things that need to get focused on the walls. We’ve got the pieces and are now starting to assemble them. The big items yesterday was getting the two major walls painted and raised.

Here’s from a day ago; the walls are almost done getting skinned with lauan:

Here’s Abby using a router to trim away excess around the openings:

At the end of the day yesterday, we stood the walls up and secured them with jacks so they could be used during that evening’s rehearsal:

Abby celebrates out accomplishment:

Abby is also the head of the props team, and here’s teammate Valerie (who is also in the show) working on the chimney board. Here she uses the bandsaw to cut out the legs:

And then a very detailed period paint treatment:

Seeing the star motif she selected, I decided to use a star motif for the changing screen. The chimney board is part of the Gripe household, and sticks to that house’s blue palette. The changing screen is part of the Traffick household, and sticks to that house’s golden Spanish motifs.

Here Cody and another student work on the doorstep platforms. There’s TD Ruth and Trevor in the background discussing the Gripe windows:

Ruth also decided to brush off her welding skills and use steel for the climbable trellis:

Here she is on the driveway behind the shop, preparing to grind down the burrs:

The Busybody

Posted in Uncategorized on April 13th, 2022 by Eric Appleton

We’re in the midst of construction (and just finished light hang) for Susan Centlivre’s “The Busybody.” Here are a few photos from yesterday in the scene shop.

Trevor works on framing up the windows for the Gripe family’s facade:

Sam works with another student on framing up the Gripe family’s facade:

Technical Director Ruth discusses a project with Cody:

And then here’s Cody again with a drawing, putting together a cut list:

This is a photo from about two weeks ago when I was working on the stage floor:

This week, though, my project is painting the two cityscape groundrow flats. In this photo I’ve just started painting the detail on the stage left flat:

And this one is from about half an hour earlier, after I just laid in some shadow on the stage left flat:

The Busybody

Posted in Uncategorized on April 12th, 2022 by Eric Appleton

I plan to get some photos of work in the shop in the next couple days, but in the meantime, here are two photos of the model. Because of time constraints I rarely build a fully colored model for our productions, but since we were exploring model building in Advanced Design Seminar, I felt that I should include myself in the exercises and build an example. Building the furniture was one of my Spring Break activities.

Here is the set up for Gripe’s interior:

And the set up for Traffick’s interior:

We’re also taking the play on a brief tour; a single performance at the Cravath Lake park pavilion in downtown Whitewater. The city didn’t have drawings of the space to share, so I and some students went down one afternoon and did a quick survey. After drafting the plan, I built a model in SketchUp so that we could all see how the furniture and portable scenic pieces could be arranged in the space.