By Kyle Sinclair
Last year, I wrote a song about Lakewood Playhouse’s upcoming season of shows. We had been in lockdown for several months, but things were looking up and we expected a reopening announcement within the next few days.
But then things got worse, and there was no announcement. The original version of the song (in which I managed to rhyme “mid-July we’ll” with “Murder on the Nile”) had to be trimmed, since mid-July had come and gone with no such performance.
A year later, I decided to write a sequel about the NEW upcoming season. I cheekily called it, “Tempting Fate”.
As I wrote, specific visuals popped into my head to match the various musical vignettes – creepy masks in the audience for Haunting of Hill House, a dramatic diva on the balcony for Head Over Heels – and it quickly coalesced into a music video idea. I texted Chap Wolff this pie-in-the-sky vision as an example of how far my idea had spiraled out of control.
He replied, and I quote, “Let’s do it.”
I’d been experimenting with a camera technique where it spins around a subject and things appear where previously there was nothing. It requires a lot of coordination and practice, but the result is pretty magical. It was a natural fit for this project because it allowed for different scenes to match the musical vignettes while highlighting the brilliance of live theatre.
Yes, once the camera cuts to the Playhouse, the entire scene is a single shot with no cuts. Everything you see was actually done in real time at the theatre – there are no tricks, no hidden cuts.
A group of thespians met in the theatre early one Sunday in August with only a cursory understanding of what they were going to be doing. We assigned them roles and costumes, and prepared to block the video.
I was nervous about this phase of the project. I was asking a lot from the cast, who had to learn the song, blocking, and costume changes in just a few hours. Co-Interim Managing Artistic Director James Venturini and I had discussed whether this should actually be a 2-day project, but based on the Playhouse calendar, either we got it done in one day or it didn’t happen. The actors were expecting to be there from 9-5, but film shoots can be unpredictable and I knew there was a possibility that we wouldn’t be done until closer to 7 or 8.
Film and theatre are two entirely different beasts. In theatre, once the show begins, the script barrels forward and the actors are at its mercy. In film, the actors (usually referred to as “the talent”) spend most of their time sitting around waiting for everyone else to get the shot set up. Then they come in, say their lines, and go back to waiting for the next shot. I was determined to avoid wasting my cast’s time – I had already written a script and had blocked it all out using cut up pieces of paper to make sure my vision was even possible – but now the issue would be clearly communicating the pictures in my head to a cast of 12. I asked them to trust that we were creating something cool.
Right off the bat, costuming took a little longer than I’d hoped. Co-Interim Managing Artistic Director Heather Hinds did a fabulous job sifting through the Playhouse’s vast store to provide each actor with much more comprehensive outfits than I’d envisioned. They looked great, but we were half an hour behind when we finally started blocking.
However, once we started, the cast just clicked into place. Everything felt right; with very little guidance, my cast knew where they were supposed to be and when they were supposed to be there. We only had to walk through it 2 or 3 times before we were ready to practice with costumes and music.
We knew we had been missing the theatre, but I don’t think we realized how badly. If you haven’t had the opportunity to put on a play, know that it can be every bit as emotionally and physically taxing as a big sports match. Theatre is an intense, collaborative adventure, and witnessing my friends creating magic onstage again warmed my heart. We were all invested in this project and the stage was electric with excitement as each vignette was locked into place. I started bouncing with giddiness as I realized that this could actually work.
We took a lunch break and then began filming. After each run, we’d watch the shoot, I’d provide notes, and we’d do it again. Finally, there was a run that I was happy with. “That’s a wrap!” I said, and the cast cheered. It was 4pm. We were an hour early.
The day was literally a best-case scenario for the shoot. It’s a testament to the quality of my team that we were able to pull this off; they immediately understood my vision and were able to execute it. The video turned out almost exactly the way it played out in my head! I am so thankful for Lakewood Playhouse’s community of actors, who could turn an ambitious concept into a finished product in less than a day.
Now I suppose it’s time to start brainstorming next year’s video.
The Lakewood Playhouse joins with other local arts organizations including Tacoma Little Theater, Harlequin Productions, Olympia Film Society, as well as regional arts organizations including Seattle Symphony, the Pacific Northwest Ballet, The Seattle Repertory Theatre, the 5th Avenue Theatre, A Contemporary Theatre (ACT), Village Theatre, and Seattle Theatre Group that are requiring proof of either full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours for entry to all performances.
Ticket holders will NOT be permitted in the theater without proper documentation and matching identification. This policy is in effect starting August 24th 2021.
In an effort to provide the highest level of public safety to our audiences, artists, staff and volunteers, entrance to any event at the Lakewood Playhouse will now require proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or, for those who are not vaccinated, proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of the performance start time.
Staff will check for proof of vaccination and negative COVID PCR tests at the doors as a condition of entry. Masks will also be required for audience members inside the theater, except while actively eating or drinking.
The following are acceptable as proof of full vaccination:
Self-reported vaccination records that are not verified by a health care provider cannot be accepted.
The following are acceptable as proof of a negative COVID-19 test result:
Self-reported negative test results that are not from a test provider, a laboratory, or a health care provider cannot be accepted.
Ticket holders that are unwilling or unable to comply with the above COVID-19 protocols have until two weeks before their event to request a refund for a Main Stage show and one week for Special Performances. Otherwise, a copy of a positive COVID-19 test (see above) will be required for a ticket refund. This can be emailed prior to the event time to email@example.com with their name and ticket confirmation number. Ticket holders will NOT be permitted in the theater without proper documentation and matching identification.
For more information about the vaccine, how to schedule a vaccine appointment, or COVID-19 testing please go to the Washington State Department of Health website at https://www.doh.wa.gov.
By James Venturini
Lakewood Playhouse is seeking directors for two of the shows of its 83rd Season, the play “A Christmas Carol … More or Less,” and the musical “Head Over Heels.” We are also seeking a choreographer for “Head Over Heels.”
Those interested should apply by email via firstname.lastname@example.org by August 28. Please indicate which shows/positions you are interested in, and include a resume with, or listing of, relevant experience. Interviews will be held between August 29 and September 9, 2021.
The Director will ensure the quality and completeness of the production and lead the members of the creative team into realizing it, under the supervision of the Production Manager and Managing Artistic Director. The Director runs auditions as required prior to production; selects the cast and devises the rehearsal schedule; runs all rehearsals for the production and sets the blocking; develops creative concepts for the production; collaborates with their Stage Manager, designers, and other staff to co-ordinate research and work on all the aspects of the production; attends all scheduled meetings and technical rehearsals related to the production; and monitors the production’s effectiveness in relation to its public performances.
The Choreographer will work with the Director to ensure the Director’s concept for the show is carried through the choreography, making sure that the blocking works in tandem with the Director’s blocking of the show. The Choreographer will work with Stage Manager to ensure a safe company and environment; co-ordinate with the Stage Manager, Director, and Musical Director for scheduling rehearsal times, calls times, and additional rehearsals; complete the choreography before tech rehearsals, with any changes approved by the Director; appoint an appropriate Dance Captain; attend all scheduled meetings and relevant technical rehearsals related to the production; in case of issues during performance, be prepared to come in and rework with the cast to ensure the dance is ready for the next performance.
Prior experience as a stage director or choreographer, and experience working with diverse groups, including a commitment to cultivating environments that are equitable and inclusive of diverse social identities and backgrounds, is desired.
A Christmas Carol...More or Less Director
Head Over Heels Director and/or choreographer
By Chap Wolff
Hello and welcome to the first installment of the brand-new Lakewood Playhouse Board Blog. In this first posting we are going to explain what this is, what to expect from this blog, why we are doing this, who is creating all this wonderful content, and finally, how often we will be posting to it.
What is this Board Blog? Simply put, it is a place where the Lakewood Playhouse Board and Managing Artistic Director(s) can keep the community informed about the happenings of LPH. For a while now, we have been looking for a way to communicate with the community we are in; many ideas passed around the table from a podcast to monthly videos and more. None of them seemed to be something that our current leadership team had capabilities or time to produce. However, in our exuberance to post content that was flashy, we had completely overlooked the simple idea of just writing it down. Who knew?
What can you come to expect from this blog? Speaking honestly, even we don’t fully know what to expect from it. Our thoughts are to use this to give consistent updates to the community about the shows that are going on and what’s making it happen behind the scenes. Mostly, this is going to be in written form, but if we get the gumption to create something more than words on a screen (which may be a picture/video), this is where our community will see it first. This is a new idea and we are going to be working out the kinks as we go.
Why are we doing this? This may be my shortest answer yet (thankfully). We have known that we haven’t been doing a great job communicating and haven’t been able to figure out a way to fix it. This is how we start and be better than we were.
So, who are the dashing faces behind the words you are going to be reading in the future? Our awesome board members, our lovely interim Co-Managing Artistic Directors (and the people who will take over their positions when we hire them … nothing on that yet but that will be in a future posting), staff members, and community members. We aren’t planning a strict schedule by which we’ll post, we are currently building content and will be posting as we get it written.
If you’ve read this far, Thank you. I promise this is the last paragraph you will read. We on the board look forward to communicating with our community, and we hope this is just a first step to something bigger. On a personal note, it doesn’t matter how many times you stumble and fall, the only thing that matters is that you pick yourself up and keep trying to do better. These past seasons have been rough on everyone, we have stumbled and fell, but this is the year where we strive to pick ourselves up and do better. We can’t wait to see your smiling faces once again in our seats.