Wednesday, August 28, 2013

It's a mystery to me

Peanut gallery high above the stage.
Grand Rapids Civic Theatre is a fun house. Just think of all the good times you've had there watching plays, taking classes. But tonight media members saw some of the building's spooky secrets in a special Inside DISH tour.  Of course, a bit of mystery was the general idea. The next production is "Sherlock Holmes" and as the great detective would say, the game's afoot. 

As media members wandered through the props stored in the labyrinth basement, Dr. Watson popped up. He was more than a little agitated that Holmes had stuck him in the basement. Holmes himself popped out of the fancy stage right dressing room which was added in 1979 for Tony Award-winning actress Julie Harris when she presented "The Belle of Amherst" at Civic. Harris, who died Saturday, is also featured in a photo in the lobby.

But the spookiest part of the tour was a trip to the "peanut gallery" on the third floor, high above the balcony that most guests see. This is where blacks and other minorities were seated until the 1920s. Now the bleacher seats are used for storage and spotlights. But it was an ugly peek into entertainment history that was particularly meaningful on the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech.

1 comment:

  1. That photo doesn't do it justice. The real view lies behind the wall where the original seats are still in place. They are too narrow, too hard, and too real. When you sit in them you can feel the weight of the history close in around you.