Volunteers Spend Summer Preparing for Annual Musical
In the summer of 1983 the Marysville Area Community Theatre presented their first musical, Oklahoma; the tradition has continued for thirty seasons.
This summer members of the community theatre are spending long hours rehearsing and preparing for their annual musical, Curtains. The musical whodunit was written by John Kander and Fred Ebb, the same writing team who created Chicago and Cabaret. The musical will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on July 26, 27, and 28 and at 2:00 p.m. on July 29 in the Marysville High School auditorium. Tickets may be purchased at Marysville’s Chamber of Commerce.
Throughout the years the community theatre has produced a variety of musicals ranging from Broadway hits like The Sound of Music and My Fair Lady to more modern productions like Little Shop of Horrors and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
“We try to choose shows that will please our audiences as well as challenge our actors,” said Carla Wolfe, the community theatre’s president. “There’s nothing happenstance about how we choose a musical. A lot of thinking and planning are involved during the selection.”
For this summer’s musical, the group was drawn to Curtains because it’s a show-within-a-show; it’s a show about a theatrical troupe trying to mount a Broadway production. “Since we’re celebrating our thirtieth anniversary, we thought it made sense to do a show about performers,” Wolfe said. “We get to show audience members what it’s like behind the scenes.”
According to Wayne Kruse, the show’s director, the behind the scenes work is critical to the show’s success. The work done backstage lays the foundation for the show. The design of the costumes, lights, sets, and props allows the actors to make the story believable and come to life. To accomplish this volunteers spend countless hours putting together all of the technical aspects of the show.
For this production, there were some unusual props required for some of the dance numbers. Linda Swim and Jenny Thayer-Wood were given the charge of rounding up and creating all of the necessary props.
In one of the musical’s scenes, a set of powder kegs is needed – fifteen miniature barrels. “Buying real ones would have cost a small fortune and would have been too heavy,” said Thayer-Wood. “My challenge was to build something sturdy, lightweight, and somewhat believable. My team and I constructed them using skeletons of Styrofoam with staves of cardboard fastened around them. With some paint and other final touches, we had our kegs.”
While the musical is presented four times with a total of less than eight hours in actual performance time, the total amount of time expended planning and building the set, props, and costumes and in rehearsing likely reaches well into the hundreds of hours – and it is all done by volunteers dedicated to bringing this facet of the arts to the public.
Even though the hours involved consume a substantial amount of time, the cast and crew indicate that the friendships and camaraderie that develop during a summer musical are remarkable, and the memories are priceless. “When watching the performance, keep in mind all the time and dedication – and to some degree, magic – that goes in to bringing the show to life,” said Thayer-Wood. “That stack of barrels you see on stage is not just a stack of barrels, but hours of laughter, conversation, and working together while lasting friendships are fostered.”
Wolfe, who is responsible for designing and constructing the more than one hundred costumes for the show, agrees. “My crew and I have been working every Saturday and Sunday since the beginning of June plus some weekday afternoons and evenings to create all of the costumes,” she said. “We will continue to work right up to tech week to be sure that everyone’s costumes are ready and that they look great. We will continue to monitor all of the costumes throughout the run of the show to ensure that everything looks as good at the final performance as it did on opening night.”
Having been involved with the community theatre since its inception Wolfe has had the chance to meet and work with a variety of people. “Spending countless hours on the weekends in the costume shop can be daunting,” Wolfe said. “But, for many years my mom would work alongside me and I valued that time with her. She was able to share her amazing talent for sewing with us, and it gave us the chance to spend some quality time together.”
In the end, the cast and crew agree that the hours spent on the show are well worth it.
“Even though it’s been a pretty grueling rehearsal process, the summer has been extremely enjoyable,” Kruse said. “We’re ready for an audience to join us and enjoy the fruits of our labors.”