Making Do with a Postage Stamp-Sized Stage

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on August 8, 2014

That infamous man-eating plant, Audrey II, came to us, as a rental, as a total mess. Under all the scads of indiscernible cloth and paint at least some of the plant’s “bones” were intact. Audrey II reminded me of Bette Davis in Dark Victory — a total mess — but with lots of help from many hands she, too, came back to life, a beauty after a paint job and spruce-up.

We had struggled to squeeze it into the theatre before she was fixed up and done up, but we couldn’t get her out after Little Shop of Horrors closed without demoralizing her beauty and ruining all our great work. She left us as she came, a total mess.

A set’s strike is no easy task. It must be done in a timely manner, as the next show — Grease — needed to get into the space as soon as possible.

Since the Roxy has no wings (off-stage space) nor a shop (a space as large as the stage in which to work), everything is done on a 20′ x 25′ postage stamp-sized stage — “incredible to behold,” as Rocky says in The Rocky Horror Show (our other Halloween offering).

The night the actors squeezed the beast into a Budget Rental truck which transported it home to St. Louis, Tom and I spent the entire next day (Sunday) reconfiguring the loaned Nunsense flats into a proper set for our Grease — no easy task, with some flats twice my height and a foot or two beyond my arm span.

No one said it was going to be easy; and if ever anyone was right, it was then. But come Monday, the actors walked into what could be taken in as a somewhat finished set for Grease.

The incredibly well-schooled interns behind the Grease set painted, teared, glued, pasted and decoupaged the skyscrapers for a colorful and fanciful New York skyline for On the Town. No time or space is wasted.

Amy Wyer left us early this summer to further her pre-college studies at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. But before she left, she gave us this note:

“Thank you. Let me start with that. You do such wonderful things with the interns. I know if it weren’t for the Roxy, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I would never have even applied to the summer programs, let alone gotten into them. I hope you will help me with college auditions, as I do plan to be here this year. You’ve taught me so much these past seven years, and I plan to bring it with me to Philly, including a copy of your ’25 Rules to Acting.’ I hope everything with the city council and the new center goes in the Roxy’s direction, because the Roxy does so much with so little, and I want to see what it does with more. Thank you again for every opportunity and piece of advice. I’ll see you in the fall!”

See you at the theatre!

[John McDonald]

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