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Archive for August 21st, 2010
21 Aug

The Real Life: Don’t You Love Theatre People?, Pt. 2

Working at the theatre was one of the best experiences ever. But even great jobs have their down days. Probably one of the worst (or at least one of the most memorable) was when Andy took a summer break and we brought in an ice show. The cast of the show stayed the same for the run but every two weeks we got a new headliner for the show – popular World and Olympic champions.
One particular week in the run I was basically left “in charge” as the boss was out of town. So it was up to me to make sure all was well and running fine. The main part of my job was taking care of our celebs, which happened to be a recent Olympic champ. The day started very early attending to the skater who had to be driven to a real rink two hours away each day for practice, then brought back for a matinee and evening show. While the practice was going on I got a frantic call from a box office person at the theatre. Apparently they heard on the news that the skating show was failing and the theatre was on the verge of closing. If you know anything about the tourism business, a rumor like this can panic tour operators and kill business alike.
So I got into action and called out publicist trying to get damage control going. Oh, and performers are sensitive to these rumors as well so I was trying to work on the down-low. I was hours away from the theatre, the skater wanted to go to the mall and shop, and I’m quietly trying to get control over a bad situation. Then, of course, on the way back to Branson through all the hills I loose cell reception and I’m flying in the dark for the ride.
Then upon arriving back and after getting my charge settled in I’m greeted with the news that there is a water leak in the theatre. Not just a little drip on an aisle or a seat, but a constant drip on the stage – which is an ice rink. It had been dripping all night leaving a gaping hole in the ice at center stage where everyone skates. Patching would not help as the drip would just dig it out again. The skate captain is saying the show has to be cancelled because it was too dangerous to skate. For me that was not an option as it would be my head on the chopping block. So the thing to do was stop the leak and get the ice fixed. Did I mention this was two hours before the doors were to open for seating?
The leak was at the ceiling and we had to get the lift out as this was way up top. A stage hand road the lift up as far as we could extend it. He had a broom with him and he reached up to tap on the ceiling tile. As soon as he touched it, the tile exploded and a huge gush of water came flying down. It was like watching Angel Falls. In an instant the entire stage, first few rows of seats, and some of the employees were drenched. We were all in shock.
The good thing is that it was not a pipe or anything. It was collected water from a roof leak – a very large pool of it. Bad news was that everything was wet. We called the ice guy to get here and see if the ice could be saved for the show. Then we had everyone grab extension cords and hair dryers from the dressing rooms and began blow drying the seats. In the meantime, I was taking calls from the publicist and talking to news folks trying to iron out the rumor mess. It was crazy.
Somehow, we got the theatre back in order, the ice settled, and opened the doors to the auditorium barely a few minutes late. The news and papers did a nice report on the show and that PR nightmare came to an end. I finally made it to bed after the skater’s post-show massage appointment and passed out a frazzled mess. As they say in this business called show, the show must go on. And it did. And I aged about 5 years in a single day!
BTW – when I told the boss everything when he got back, he thought it was hysterical and said “welcome to my world!” Thanks…