Friday, February 12, 2016

Die Fledermaus

We took Kate to the opera! I've been painting for Die Fledermaus, and got some extra tickets so I could take Doug, since his birthday was the next day and he never gets to go to these things--and then I thought, why not take Kate as well? It's a fun opera and I figured she could handle it. (She said she thought she could sit quietly if she had a kneaded eraser to play with, which we agreed was a good solution.)  It was a great show. 

We didn't really have a set designer for this one--the whole production crew met with the guest director and we all hashed it out together. The first act takes place in a house, the second in a ballroom, and the third in a jail.  We came up with the idea of using different colors on the masking panels (visible through the doorways) and different frames around the doorways, to represent the three settings.  It ended up working really well. I wasn't able to get photos of the different looks, but you can see the green for the ballroom in the top picture. 

After the success of the tear-away painted drop-cloth walls in Don Giovanni, Noel asked if it would work to just paint all the walls on drop cloths and affix them to the set on-site. I was up for giving it a try.  Tony also thought it was a great idea, since it meant one less time that he would have to move all the pieces.  Right before I started painting, though, our car died.  This made things considerably more complicated.  I ended up painting the first drop cloth in Laura Call's garage (conveniently within walking distance of our house), and then moved to the Temple Theater and later the Armory, and had to beg rides or take the bus.  Then Anne Marie said I could borrow her daughter Raechel's car (she's away at college), which was a huge help. 

On a Wednesday at the Armory, Anne Marie came and helped me paint for a day. We worked on the big columns. (The first time I've actually painted these--we used them in Roméo et Juliette but they were already the right color.) We had a nice time painting and talking, and ate our lunch at one of the prop tables.

We also painted a drop cloth for the center masking panels. I'd already done one blue and one green, and this one was split down the middle (to be cut later). The colors that I got ended up being very bright. Like special-effects-green-screen bright. Anne Marie said it was like painting Kermit and Cookie Monster.

The director was going for a 1930's setting, so I wanted to use an art deco stencil on the masking. Anne Marie helped me find a good pattern, and I went home and made a stencil with some tyvek. I got a darker emerald green paint and scrubbed some of that over the too-bright background before stenciling.

The tyvek worked okay, but the edges did curl up as the paint dried, which made it a little tricky. (And it got messy--after this I brought gloves!) I ended up only doing the center panel, since it took so long, but it I was happy with how it turned out. And I did scrub a layer of darker green over the other two panels as well.

Painting everything on drop cloths worked pretty well--we could still see the seams and wrinkles, but I don't think they really detracted from the overall look. I had to use quite a lot of paint to get a solid color on the green and blue panels, but the walls required much less, since the light gray I was using for the background was not far off from the original color of the canvas. But it did take a while to get everything up and looking good, which means all the rehearsal photos show a rather unfinished-looking set.

Johann gets ready to paint a masking panel. (He's the one who was interning at the theater during Pinafore. He's been in the chorus of all the shows since.) The "dry floor" sign is a sight gag for the beginning of Act 3, where the jail guard has a rather lengthy slapstick bit involving a mop.

Tony works on a window.

The stapled-up cloths were looking a bit sloppy, but the white trim at the top and bottom really helped pull everything together. (I was able to paint the top trim before it was put up, and we got Johann to do the bottom trim. So nice to have help!)

We got as much as possible done before dress rehearsal, but there were still a few things left to do, so Tony and I had a work call Friday afternoon. 

Royce's daughter Brenna, staying away from the wet paint while the stenciled cloth gets hung. (Her mom put her on tape-measure duty, so she was going around measuring everything, but then she was sad that I wouldn't let her measure the paint.)

Finishing up door frames, mere hours before the performance.

Humorous cartoon-style keyhole.

The director said that it's common to add an extra number in the party scene, so he got the idea of collaborating with Tacoma Ballet, and had two couples come out and dance a number. One of the dancers was Erin Guinup's daughter. It was a great addition to the performance. (Photo by Peter Serko, from rehearsal.)

Kate's friend Emma's mom watched Andy for us so we could go to the opera. We were accompanied by Anne Marie, Mary McGiffin, and Lynne Hennessey (grandmother of the ballerina). It was such a fun night. The music was fabulous, and the performers were all excellent. They really played up the humor. (Kate says she liked the singing and the fancy dresses.)

I read that Fledermaus was the first show that Tacoma Opera ever did, back in 1968. And in 1996 when Doug and I went on our first official date, he took me to see an opera revue at the University of Utah that a friend was singing in, which included Fledermaus's champagne song. (In fact, that's the only song I remember from that night.) It all seems fitting, with Erin's daughter being in the show, since Erin was the director of our multi-stake Pirates of Penzance, which is how I ended up getting this job in the first place. It's been altogether fabulous.

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