Inside Scoop, Late Summer 2017

Posted September 14, 2017

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Late Summer news from American Players Theatre

With all eight plays now open and more than 100 performances in the books, we scoured performance reports for interesting – sometimes harrowing – news from the Hill. Many thanks to the stage management and house management staff for giving us an inside look. 

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June 17, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
During the wedding quick change, the zipper on Hippolyta’s dress broke so Wardrobe Assistant Shannon Heibler and Assistant Stage Manager Marissa Raby quickly sewed her in and used one of our silk hankies to help cover the gap! She made her entrance on time.

June 25, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Wildlife, part 1: There are MANY tiny frogs in the pit tonight – maybe more than a hundred!

July 2, Hill Grand Opening
With the first set of plays running in the new theater, we pause for a housewarming celebration for the renovated Hill Theatre. More than 500 people gathered for tours, custard, gift bags and words of thanks. We are ever grateful to our donors – more than 1,000 strong – who made our new home a reality.

July 6, 8 and 12: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Puck’s Wings, Part 1: Puck’s wings tested out fine before the show but refused to operate once we got rolling; Wardrobe believes that the wire in them, though the same gauge, may be a bit weaker than the wings’ previous wires. They are bringing them down to the shop for a professional eye.

Puck’s Wings, Part 2: Thank you for the wing fix! The wings malfunctioned again before Puck’s first use of them. Wardrobe reports that it was an issue with the crimp beads this time and is still concerned about the wire strength. They’ve been brought down to the shop. They wondered if we could have a back-up pair, but is prepping an emergency repair kit for next time.

Puck’s Wings, Part 3: Thank you to Costumes for the Puck wing repair; they behaved beautifully tonight and were audibly appreciated by the audience!

July 11, A Flea in Her Ear 
Wildlife, part 2: A large frog made a break for a row of seats on Aisle 5 during Act II. HM attempted to catch/usher frog as discreetly as possible using a dustpan, but it disappeared under a seat. A staff member was positioned at the row at intermission in case it reappeared. 

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July 13, Cyrano de Bergerac
Wildlife, Parts 3 and 4: A fledgling robin was found in the women’s restroom exit pre-show. It was moved to the grass and monitored. Post show, a PA helped put it back in its nest. HM and AHM discussed bird with Dane County Wildlife Center, who suggested leaving it near the nest but protected from predators to see if parent continues care. HM will check on bird in AM and take it to Madison if needed. 

About 9:30 pm, a skunk took a stroll in the lobby near the prairie, heading determinedly toward Aisle 7. House staff eventually scared it away with flashlights and quiet stomping while maintaining a safe distance. 

July 18, Cyrano de Bergerac
The sausage link strand split into two parts. Props, please restore to a single string of sausages. Thanks.

July 21, A Flea in Her Ear
When Jonathan Smoots and Nate Burger did the business with the palate (striking Nate and knocking it out of his mouth), it ended up on the second step of the stage – the lowest step to the audience. John Phillips (whose character comes in and finds the palate on the floor) was informed of the location, but when he came on stage to spot it, he saw a white flower petal from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and thought that was what he was looking for. Upon discovering that it wasn’t, he moved to “Plan B” and retrieved the back-up palate that is kept in his pocket. A young lady in the front row picked up the palate and returned it to the crew at the second intermission. 

July 22, Midsummer
Wildlife, Part 5: Four turkeys loitering near the shuttle path during pre-show and Act I, too cool to be scared off by people or the shuttle. The house manager finally chased them out of the shuttle stop and into the woods as the show ended.

July 25: This morning, we lost a dear family member at APT. The 100+ year old iconic black oak that stood watch over our grounds from its home in the picnic grounds (near the pavilion picnic shelter) was reclaimed by nature. In 2013 it was measured and named a Champion Tree, or one of the largest of its species. At that time it was found to be the fourth largest black oak in the state of Wisconsin. The APT staff was emotional but philosophical. Artistic Director Brenda DeVita commented on social media, “She will be missed. Her shade was full of comfort, her majesty full of grace, her beauty made me weep. Already, saplings are stretching and reaching skyward hoping to be her successor.” 

July 29, A Flea in Her Ear
Apples, Part 1: Our apple exploded when set down on the writing desk at the top of the show, and left little bits of apple on the desk during Act I. 

August 5, Three Sisters
Apples, Part 2: We discovered as we took house lights to half that our apple was rotten. We paused to allow another apple to be procured. Understanding that other varieties of apples are not period-appropriate, we would love to request a different variety of apple that would be firmer. 

August 5, A Flea in Her Ear
Wildlife, Part 6: Chipmunk appearance during Raymonde-Lucienne scene in Act 1. He entered Proscenium Right, but finding the show not to his liking, exited Aisle 1 into the Stage Right flower box. Must not be a fan of comedy. 

August 17, Pericles (2nd Preview)
Wildlife, Part 7: Bird moseying about onstage. Stayed for two pages until Tracy (Tracy Michelle Arnold) saw it who, in character, chased it with the intent to catch it and eat it. As it flew away, DD (David Daniel) added, “there goes dinner!” which received a hearty round of applause. 

August 19, Pericles (Opening)
Wildlife, Part 8: Raccoon spotted heading into the Stage Right shed. Despite all wrangling efforts, he headed for the stage and spent the scene of the Knights’ tournament hanging about the Tarsus house scenery piece (onstage but out of sight). By the end of Scene I.5 he had retreated to the pit. We were able to keep tabs on him through the rest of Act I. Crew and Bradford coaxed him to vacate during intermission. UPDATE: The big storm was quite traumatizing for him, but house management was able to safely move him at the end of the show from underneath a shuttle to the woods where he could get some R&R in solitude. We checked in before we left and he was still breathing, but clearly tuckered out. (End of show notes.)

August 21, Eclipse
Eclipse day. A handful of APT company members and staff headed to the Hill Theatre to view the eclipse. They were encouraged by John Heasley, a retired teacher, astronomer, house staff member and friend of the theater, who told us this story via his blog: On October 2, 1605, a partial solar eclipse was visible over The Globe Theatre outside London from 11:32 until 2:03 (local time), almost the same time as the solar eclipse over American Players Theatre outside Spring Green. The Moon covered 88% of the Sun for Shakespeare’s Eclipse just as it will on August 21 for The Great American Eclipse. Did Shakespeare see this eclipse? In King Lear, Gloucester sees a correspondence between heavenly events and the unraveling of the kingdom: “These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us.” As he confronts the horror of what he has done, Othello imagines a celestial event: “Methinks it should be now a huge eclipse/Of sun and moon, and that the affrighted globe/Should yawn at alteration.” Note: Visit John’s Facebook Page, Driftless Stargazing.

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