Elizabeth Salaam 11 a.m., Feb. 26
How to Choose Which Play to Tour?
(One of my brother's many creative hats: he does freelance development for a TV production company in Minneapolis. He's proposing a non-fiction series that will follow a touring Broadway show around the country. He asked for my input).
I did a feature, miles ago, about a touring company of The Rocky Horror Show. Wanted to know if cities responded differently, and how people interrupted, and how the actors had to adjust.
Among other things I learned that fans, often dressed as one of the characters, waited by the stage door after, some convinced that the real Brad or Janet or Frank N. Furter would come out.
That feature made me wonder:
How does a production company like the Niederlanders choose which play or musical to tour? Name recognition? Do they pre-test markets? Why do shows miss the cut?
Obviously the cost of moving from city to city's a factor, but how much? And how do they travel - literally trucks and buses? How many trucks?
How much of the original design can they transport? How do they account for the differing sizes of stages. Can one set fit all? Same with sound and lighting (they must know a theater's capabilities well in advance - have them on computer, no?).
Wear and tear: costumes and props take a pounding. How big is the support crew (seamstresses, etc.)? I wonder if period plays would be an unpopular choice, given the details, like wigs, they require (though period musicals flourish).
Casting: a star vehicle or ensemble? Where does the star stay? Where the ensemble?
How do they keep the show in shape? Does the director make occasional house calls? Or does the Stage Manager conduct rehearsals on the road?
Speaking of whom - you could probably do a whole segment on the Stage Manager of a touring production. I can't even imagine an SM's responsibilities (do they burn out?).
Another segment: understudies and replacements.
A Week in the Life: most tours spend seven days in each city. What's that process: load in on Monday (or Sunday night?)? Tech. , Monday or Tuesday? Run the show. Strike the set Sunday. Caravan to the next stop. Must feel like relocating a village.
Just curious: do they change a show, in any way, for a specific city or region of the country. Some demographic editing here or there? Or do certain shows avoid certain regions altogether?
In other words, what might a production touring the country tell us about the country?