Thursday, February 4, 2016

Wizard of Oz

While Annabeth was busy with Scrooge Thalia arrived home from a semester in the UK and set to work as tech director and lighting director for Wizard of Oz.  The show opened 4 weeks after she got home, so it was a whirlwind of activity.

There was no scene shop in which to make the set, so she used our garage

and basement. (That's Annabeth helping with the wood.)

Since this was over Christmas it was often cold.  Also, rainy -- the time frame included the days and days of rain that ended up flooding most of the area, shutting down interstates and generally causing a disaster.  Our house stayed dry, but it was stressful from the rain alone, not to mention trying to quickly build and paint things in unsuitable space.

Part of the design involved curtains, so I said I'd do those.  For the forest she needed a 40 foot span of muslin strips dyed various shades of green.  I rounded up an assortment of RIT dyes in various greens, plus black, brown, and yellow and set to work in our kitchen sink.

The muslin supplied for the project was 120 inches wide; the bolts varied in length from 7 yards to about 10 yards.  I took the fabric off the bolts and ripped each into 4 large sheets 30 inches wide.  I dyed the gigantic strips two at a time.  As the work progressed I got more and more random about my dye mixing; the last batch was simply "dump everything left that's open together and see what happens".  I also did quite a bit of throwing more dye in during the soak process.  We didn't want an even dye job, so I was splotching it up as much as possible.

The real trick was trying to get the sheets to dry given how soggy the climate was at the time.  Putting them through the dryer tinged the dryer drum green so I quickly stopped doing that.  I ended up with a fairly complex system of racks made from ladders, chairs, and anything else I could grab.

Then the sheets were ripped into 6 inch wide strips, varying from about 10 feet to 20 feet long.  These were sewn on headers -- I didn't have a 40 foot header, so I used some donated upholstery fabric to make 4 headers that were 10 feet each.  

I couldn't really spread out the project anywhere in the house, so it was a tangled mess in the entrance as I tried to somewhat methodically put various colors and lengths of strips together.

It turned out pretty well, though

especially considering how inexpensive it was.

Annabeth hadn't auditioned to be in the show since she knew she'd be busy with Scrooge, plus would probably help with the set.  

However, some dancers dropped out (possibly because they belatedly realized that doing a show over Christmas break means that you have rehearsals during Christmas break including every day except Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year's Eve -- the company spells this out clearly, but people don't seem to "get" what that really feels like in real life).  During Scrooge performances Annabeth got a message from the Wizard of Oz director asking if she could come be in the Jitterbug -- just the one dance, which isn't a huge commitment.  So, yeah, that's a fun number, and a minimal commitment.  Scrooge finished, we helped strike, and the next day Annabeth went to Wizard rehearsal ... and as long as she was there, could she please help out with another dance number ... and another....

And she ended up being Nikko, the flying monkey.  Really, a dream role. 

The show was great, but, wow, was it stressful.  

The mission of this theater company is to give young people opportunity to develop skills in all aspects of theater, and I think this was a great example of what they're trying to accomplish. 

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