Three Musketeers In The Can


We opened last night.  What an experience this show has been!  In all my years in theatre-17 and 200 or so productions-I have never had any show go so horribly wrong, so often…

To begin with, the set was not “completed” until this past Saturday-giving me less than a week to make it happen.  Not usually a problem, except last Saturday was a full day rehearsal for the show.  This means I cannot do one thing to the set while they are on it.  I waited until they were finished for the day and began.

Someone who was trying to help me out taped the set.  Unfortunately, it was done completely wrong which is the opposite of help.  I had to rip it all apart and redo the whole thing.

Our saying for this show is “Do or Do Not.  There is No Try”.

Thank you, Yoda.

Their hearts are in the right place, but the results just make more work for those of us who are already swamped with work and no time.  Don’t help unless you are actually sure you are helping.  Please, I am begging you…

Sunday is a frustrating day as well, because we have a church renting our auditorium each Sunday morning.  Therefore, any of our sets have to be removable so the church can have it’s services on the stage.  This is tremendously frustrating for a couple reasons.  First, our shows have sets which are generally not created to be moved.  They are built and they stay put until the show closes and we tear down.  And while this particular set is not as large as some have been, it is built over the musical pit area of the auditorium, with the seating for the audience on the usual stage.  It is a thrust, only different.  It is a very complex build which ended up looking nothing like the original plan.

The plan I based my designs on.

Okay.  So I come in after the church service and paint my arms off.  I accomplish a great deal, as I am a tremendously fast and accurate painter.  Our director comes in and says he likes the blue stripe down the middle of the stairs on stage left (currently stage right, as the stage is reversed).  These are the stairs we used in the castle of the last show, so they still had the carpet painting going up the center.  I laughed and said, well that’s only there because I had to be able to get to the upper level.  It will be red, which is what you need on this side.

“No, this is the blue side.”  He replies.  Clearly, I have been painting that side red.  Beautifully done, by the way, as I was making it look like an aged metal.  I was very pleased with the way it was coming together, to be honest with you.  Anyway, I said “You’re kidding me.  I asked 15 times yesterday which side was D’Artangnan‘s side and was told every single time that side is his.”

“It is.  His side is red.”

“Not according to my notes from our meeting.  In my notes, in huge letters, is this: D’Artagnan’s side is blue.  The Cardinal’s side is red.  D’Artagnan’s side is a rustic barn, the Cardinal’s side is an arched doorway with a stained glass window.  And everything is going to be steampunk-esque.”

“The Cardinal’s side is the castle, D’Artagnan’s side is a tavern.”

I threw my glasses across the stage.

Was he present at our meeting?  Does he not remember the discussions we had on the set and design?  I took notes.  Really good notes.  I made drawings with color samples.  I made more effort with this set prep than I usually do because I was so excite to create a steampunk environment…

And, with very limited time anyway, I painted the set in the opposite way…

Which means I just wasted an entire day painting the set and had to change it all.  I was so upset by this I actually packed up my stuff and left.  I went home and collapsed from frustration and exhaustion.

The following day, Monday, I began again.  I repainted everything I had painted the day before.  I threw my original designs out the window and just went back to the same old stuff I’ve painted a thousand times before:  aged barn boards and stone.  After lengthy discussion with my dear friend and our costumer, Laurie, I painted the upper story and stairs black to make them disappear.  Now it’s just a place to hold their conversations, rather than actual defined spaces.  I made great progress on Monday and was pretty happy with that.

Tuesday we lost a dear member of our theatre family.  We were all shattered by her passing and the memorial service was scheduled for Thursday night.  Wednesday I was leaving our home with a dressmakers manikin in my arms and slipped on our icy porch steps.  Down I go and hard.  The pain is quite extreme and I am pretty sure I have cracked my pelvis.  Since there is nothing they can do for that and I don’t want to hear I have to take it easy and stay off it, I’ll have the x-rays later.  This happened Wednesday and we’re opening on Friday. The show must go on.  Thursday afternoon I get a call from my mom.  A very close friend of our family passed away, Lois.  So on the way to the memorial for our dear Carla, I weep for Lois.

Back to work after the memorial service.

I stay until 11:55 p.m. Thursday night.  Our alarm goes off at midnight.  The set is nearly finished.  I have a few things to do with it on Friday, but for the most part it’s complete.

Friday:  additions to the set.  Changes made in things which caused me to waste two hours doing something that became unnecessary.  Frustration is again ramping up.  In the end, I helped Laurie finish the costume details and we rolled it out as we always do.  Finished and terrific.  But let me tell you, this one was a struggle from start to finish.

I’m glad it’s over. Three Musketeers will actually go down in the record books as the second worst show experience I’ve ever had.

And that is quite a distinction.

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