Production Diary

June 28

We have wonderful scenery in the works – pictures to come. Ed Check showed us his model today, a fantasy of angels’ wings and tombstones, flying in and recombining. We have the rare advantage that our Technical Director knows the score, as Alan Schneider is both singing Daley and building the set.

July 1

July 1, and the production schedule comes clearly into view. A month from now, Ed Check’s set and Emily Dunn’s costumes will be well into construction, with the help of a team of theater students courtesy of the Five Colleges. Staging takes place August 18-31 on a stage at Amherst College the size of the Academy’s, with Jerry Noble providing the Steinway orchestra and Kevin Rhodes and Vernon Hartman occupying the podium and director’s chair. An unusual feature of the schedule is having two weeks of down time before production week at the Academy starting September 14. There are so many teachers among us (as well as students in the chorus) that we need a fighting chance to launch the school year. This will work because after three workshops most everyone already knows the piece pretty well. 9/14 is also the first rehearsal with orchestra, six days before the premiere. Par for the course, in fact luxurious!

July 3

Photo from Ed Check’s set model: Daley and Halligan in their jail cell in Northampton

The jail cell in Northampton confining Daley and Halligan

July 5

Another impending deadline making itself felt is for performance parts. The first requests from musicians to see their parts just came in – quite wonderful to receive, actually. But the reply is that they’re not ready just yet. Despite the wonders of music software, separating 648 pages of orchestra score into parts for each musician is a big task. Cues must be added to spare musicians the stress of having to count sixty bars of rest. Stuff must be cleaned up and carefully proofread against typos that will sink a rehearsal. Peter Jody, a wonderful Amherst student, is helping out with the second. Once the parts are printed, the opera is truly done – one can’t go changing the score anymore.

July 12

First big production meeting yesterday at the Academy. How many hours and union hands needed to hang and focus lights, and install set? Thanks to our very well prepared design/tech team and clear guidance from union rep Emily Brownlow, we’re a big step closer to knowing. We’ll be racing against the clock from when we start carrying things in on Sat. 9/14 till when the orchestra shows up at 1 p.m. the next day. Another interesting discussion was the division of labor for running the show. As the final scene opens the gallows comes together from three directions, with wooden poles coming down from the ceiling to fit snugly in platform slots. This is a union job. In general, though, the set has a simplicity that will allow chorus members and student assistants to do the moving – a boon to the budget.the next day. Another interesting discussion was the division of labor for running the show. As the final scene opens the gallows comes together from three directions, with wooden poles coming down from the ceiling to fit snugly in platform slots. This is a union job. In general, though, the set has a simplicity that will allow chorus members and student assistants to do the moving – a boon to the budget.

 

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