Thursday, June 20, 2013

...To The Theatre

In May, my husband and I were invited to attend a working rehearsal event at the Alley Theatre.  We’ve attended performances many times in the past few years but have never had a peek behind the scenes, as it were.  I haven’t been involved in a stage production of a play since the ONE play I was in as a child (3rd grade, I think), so I found this fascinating.
According to Wikipedia (, a working rehearsal, also known as a Q-2-Q or cue to cue, is intended primarily for the lighting and sound technicians involved in a performance, although they are of great value to the entire ensemble. It is intended to allow the technicians and stage manager to rehearse the technical aspects of a performance—when lights have to be turned on, sound effects triggered, and items rolled on and off the stage—and identify and resolve glitches. Performers do not typically rehearse entire scenes during Q-2-Q's, but instead only perform dialogue or actions that are used by the stage manager as a marker for when to initiate technical sequences or cues (hence the title). Abbreviated Q-2-Q's in which only the opening and closing sequences of each act or scene are performed is sometimes referred to as tops and tails.

The event only included about an hour of rehearsal viewing time, so we didn’t get to see much.  The performers and technical staff repeated the same few segments a number of times in order to get the cues firmly scheduled for production.  This was obviously not the first such rehearsal that had been done, as the parts we got to see started in the middle of one of the scenes.  Throughout the viewing, the actors and the director kept up a dialogue with the audience.  We were in stitches!  It really made me look forward to attending one of the performances of this particular play.
The play is called Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club.  Todd Waite, the actor who plays Sherlock Holmes, has been cast in previous productions as Sherlock (see below).  He does such a good job with the character that I automatically picture him in my mind when I read a Holmes story.
Based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Suicide Club” and featuring beloved characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jeffrey Hatcher (Mrs. Mannerly, 2010) crafts a smart new Sherlock Holmes mystery. Having played Sherlock Holmes in The Crucifer of Blood (2009) and Sherlock Holmes (2003), Alley Theatre Company Artist Todd Waite will again play the iconic and illustrious detective in a spectacular, lavish production. Dark forces may be manipulating the deaths of prominent men in a plot so far reaching that the fate of Europe is at stake. It is up to the brilliant Detective Holmes and his old friend Dr. Watson to uncover the chilling secret of the “suicide club.”

The Alley Theatre

The Alley Theatre is a Tony Award-winning indoor theatre in downtown Houston, Texas, and hosts two stages.  The Hubbard stage is the main stage with seating for 824; the more intimate Neuhaus stage seats 310.  Nine towers and open-air terraces give the Alley Theatre a castle-like quality.  Inside, a staircase spirals from the entrance vestibule to the second-floor lobby.  A truly wide variety of plays have been performed in this theater.
The Alley Theatre is one of the three oldest resident theatres in the United States.
On March 1, 2011, the Alley Theatre was awarded a Texas Medal of Arts Award by the Texas Cultural Trust, bestowed upon Texas leaders and luminaries in the arts and entertainment industry for creative excellence and exemplary talent.

For Father’s Day, my husband and I attended the Sherlock Holmes play.  Apart from being excited about seeing the production, I was also very interested in seeing how the company had fine-tuned the technical aspects (lighting, music, etc.) for the parts that we got to see them rehearse.  Of course, an excellent job was done!  We thoroughly enjoyed the play, and the costumes were stupendous. 
Not being familiar with the story (I haven’t read Stevenson’s story), I was able to relax and let the storyline unfold without having preconceived notions on how it should have been presented.  True to form for any really good whodunit and especially for Sherlock Holmes mysteries, the culprit was not who I expected it to be.  As I watched Holmes unravel the mystery, I thought it could be first this character, then that character.  Although the one character that I was [finally] sure was the culprit was a large part of the crime, he/she was only a pawn in a larger plot directed by one character that you didn’t expect to see as the villain.

Do you enjoy the theatre? 
Have you ever participated in a dramatic production? 
Is that something you would like to do, or would do again? 
Personally, as much as I like the theatre and admire those who can get up on stage, I don’t believe I could ever participate on stage.  I would be more of a behind-the-scenes player.

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