Opening a show is always fraught with, well, let's just call it the potential for adventure. Tension, stress, lack of sleep, irregular eathing habits, insane personalities, and things that you just can't expect reach up and smack you down just about the time you feel like you're getting the beast to move the way you want it to. This week as we've been working to open Tuna Does Vegas, it often seemed like the beast was going to win, but I think we may have wrestled that beast into submission.
Yesterday as we prepared for the two preview performances we still had some work to do on the show as we awaited the audience verdict on what we were trying to accomplish. The first preview went wonderfully and allowed us to plan additional work before the evening show to take advantage of the lessons we had learned. We had structured notes and work calls down to the second.
Then there was this noise.
As we were looking at some light cues in preparation for the actors to show up for notes there was this loud mechanical hum. A quick investigation yielded that both of our rooftop HVAC units weren't working. Big problem. Now, a lighting storm had knocked both of them out a few weeks ago, resulting in a show cancellation. So we were both extremely worried and extremely confused. We didn't have a storm yesterday anywhere near us. But the units weren't working. As we got on the phone to the service guys, a neighboring restaurant called us and asked us if anything was wrong with our power. They were running on half power. This led us to the answer we needed. It wasn't us, but a problem with the line. Whew! Then, shit. We had an audience showing up as this was happening and were about 90 minutes from curtain. Calls to the power company yielded answers like "yes, there's a problem but we don't know ETA on repair." Great.
Our theatre gets pretty hot without the HVAC, so doing the show without a repair of the line was not an answer unless we wanted our performers to melt and our audience to be miserable. Not a great recipe for comedy. So I made the decision that we would press on, and hold making a final decision until 8:30 at the latest, delaying the curtain by 30 minutes if we could. We told this to our arriving audience and prepped the staff and crew and awaited an update from the power company. Lighting and tech continued to work ahead on notes. (Lighting is on a different system than the HVAC.) We worked through notes with the actors. Then we waited some more and continued to plan out our options, should we not be able to go forward. Finally, at about 7:42 we got the word that power might be restored. We held our breath as our TD flipped the circuit breakers for the HVAC back on, and then turned on the units. They worked! We immediately went into show mode. Called "half-hour" and got the preview up at 8:15pm. The cast and crew were fantastic. The audience had a wonderful evening. We learned more about the show to make some final adjustments today before opening. Then we all had a beer and collapsed.
We also learned how much these folks in this little theatre with a big heart will throw themselves at anything to acheive a goal. Let me tell you the pressure was intense going into preview Saturday, and it only magnified as the events of the day unfolded. I'm grateful to have so many selfless, talented, and giving artists as colleagues here at Wayside Theatre.