Saturday, November 17, 2012

Don't be alarmed, the play will go on!

Grand Rapids Civic Theatre's production of "A Christmas Carol" is an evening of fun and inspiration. But I have to admit the biggest laughs on opening night came from the mishaps.
      Just as the first act is really heating up, when Scrooge's long dead partner Jacob Marley calls upon his chums in chains from the netherworld to really scare Scrooge, billows of fog fill the stage. Chains are clanging. Marley is flying and skeletons are popping out of the closet. It's sheer bedlam.  So on opening night when a pair of strobe lights started flashing in the auditorium, at first it seemed like part of the special effects. Except for that ear-piercing squeal on the decibel level of something from the sound system of today's overly enthusiastic rock bands. We put our fingers in our ears, the required pose for many of today's "music" performances.  As the on-stage singing continued in spite of the squeal, we soon realized this wasn't a special effect. This was a malfunctioning fire alarm. The horrible sound continued for what seemed like forever, but was probably less than a minute. For the rest of the show, house manager Mary Jo DeNolf was stationed at the alarm controls in the lobby just in case it went off by mistake again.
      But the next mishap was on stage. Near the end of the second act, when the Ghost of Christmas Future shows Scrooge his own grave. His tombstone, with his name inscribed in bright red lights, opened up from a stage platform, and from the brief glimpse we saw it was an impressive marvel indeed. But no sooner had the stone showed its face but something snapped and BOOM! it was lying face down again. The show continued with Scrooge bemoaning the hidden grave, while backstage and under the stage someone managed to make sure the stone had slipped back into its place in the stage platform just in time to become a floor again for a chorus of singing citizens.
        As is the theater tradition, the show went on. I laughed on the way home to write my review, which gave only a brief, necessary mention of the mishaps. And I thanked my lucky stars that at least we had avoided the problems of the sick patron which beset a Broadway show earlier in the week.  You gotta laugh!

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