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A lot of work behind the scenes

By Staff | Jul 14, 2014

If you have never done it, you probably have no idea how much work it is to put on a full two-hour, two-act musical play.

Oh, sure, you realize it takes some time and effort to learn the lines of the play and to practice singing the songs. And, it does.

But, actually, there is a lot more to it than that.

There are the costumes to worry about. The set has to be constructed. The orchestra has to be assembled and have practice time.

Then when all of the musical numbers have been rehearsed and the scenes have been blocked (making sure everyone knows when to come on stage and where to be when they are there, as well where and when to exit) there is another big step.

I call it “stitching the thing together.” What I mean by that, is, finally trying to run through the play from beginning to end.

Believe it or not, in many plays, this doesn’t happen until the final week of rehearsal. Only then does the whole thing come together.

Well, hopefully it does anyway.

When I was in some plays in the past, people would ask me how long the play was.

My answer was that I had no idea, as we had yet to run through it from start to finish and time it.

Usually those folks were shocked.

“But the performances are next week,” they would say. “How can you not have gone through the whole thing?”

Somehow, it always came together just in time for opening night. Well, pretty much together, anyway.

Such is the case of the most recent production of the Blue Earth Town and Country Players production, “Damn Yankees.”

While rehearsals have been going on for some time, they have mainly focused on the musical numbers and then some of the major scenes.

The whole play was not “stitched together” until this past Monday night. And yet, three days later, for opening night, it was a solid piece.

This musical has a little extra choreography that the audience may not be aware of.

There is almost more flurries of activity behind the curtain as there is in front of it.

You see, this musical has an awful lot of set changes, 18 in all, many of which involve both scenery changes as well as furniture brought on and off.

In order to accomplish this in a quick fashion, all of the set changes have been assigned.

Cast members are the stage crew. Each one has assignments all play long which flats they help move, what pieces of furniture they move on and off.

Back stage it is like watching a beehive full of worker bees flying around.

So, not only does this “Damn Yankees” cast have to remember their lines and when they need to enter and exit the stage, they also have to remember when it is they need to be moving scenery around.

In fact, there are lists of the scenes and the items needed on stage for each one with the names of the actors in charge of each piece hanging in several places behind the curtain.

And, not only has the play in front of the curtain been rehearsed many times, so has the backstage performance.

Yes, the stage crew (which is the cast) has had rehearsals which only included the set changes; no acting, singing or dancing involved.

If you receive this week’s Faribault County Register this weekend and you are still able to take in the 2 p.m. Saturday or Sunday matinee performance of “Damn Yankees,” I suggest you consider it.

At just $10 per ticket, it is a bargain.

If you have never seen the musical, it is a classic tale of a man who is such a fan of the Washington Senators that he sells his soul to the devil in order to make a deal to become a great ball player who can lead the Senators to the pennant and finally have them beat those “damn Yankees.”

It has some classic songs in it, which means you will probably go home singing or humming “Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets,” and “You Gotta Have Heart” for a few days.

And for baseball fans in Minnesota, there has always been a soft spot in our hearts for this musical.

Because, in 1961 those Washington Senators moved to our fair state and became the Minnesota Twins.

And, by gosh, this same team is still trying to beat those “damn Yankees” to this very day.

Maybe we need a Joe Hardy to show up and help the Twins out.