Behind the Scenes: Annie Get Your GunPublished: June 13, 2012
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With just a day to go before the opening of the Rockwall Summer Musicals production of "Annie Get Your Gun", it's crunch time backstage at the Utley Performing Arts Center. Backdrops are being hung, costumes fitted, lighting and sound tweaked. In just about every corner performers are exercising their voices, going over lines and gestures and re-checking their positions on stage. It is a constant and seemingly chaotic swirl of sound and motion.
Back in the shop, the sound of hammering and power drills echoes across the stage as sets are adjusted, enhanced, raised or lowered. Actors and stage hands alike wield paint brushes to touch up even as other actors work through the scenes. Musical Director Roberta Pavlov starts and stops her musicians as she tightens up and adjusts tempo and rhythm, looking at times like an aerobics instructor as she waves, points, and even hops up and down to keep the pace moving, making sure the performers hear the musical cues they need.
Keeping track of it all, Director Barbara Doudt remains remarkably composed, at least outwardly so. As each scene plays out during rehearsal, she has pad and pen at hand, noting every detail and making corrections along the way. "It's taking you too long to move this prop," she tells one actor, "You need to start more towards center stage." "Is there a different belt you can use with these pants?" she asks another, "It needs to work better in this scene."
With over thirty performers working this production, many doing dual roles and working as stage hands and set builders when not in a scene, it seems incredible that it all looks so seamless when the curtain re-opens after a set change. What the audience does not see between scenes is what resembles a mob of angry fire ants after their hill has been kicked. Trees, houses, camps, and ships appear and disappear in seconds, pushed and pulled by actors who need to be done and ready to be back in character within seconds.
It's a breathtaking experience watching a production of this scope come together. It's clear that each and every person involved in putting it on loves what they are doing and puts their all into it. And hopefully, when the curtain rises on opening night, the audience will be fooled into thinking that it all just happened by magic.