Sleepless Nights, Endless Day & No Place I’d Rather Be!

For the first time since I started working on this blog, this post is totally from my point of view as a member of the administrative staff. It had always been my opinion that the more interesting stuff goes on in the shops, the rehearsal hall and on the stage, but after this week’s Opening Day, it dawned on me that a very important aspect of this entire process has been absent from this blog – the extraordinary team of 13 that make up the PlayMakers Administrative staff: from box office, to house management, to company management to marketing & development, every single person rolled up their sleeves this weekend to pull off the biggest day in PlayMakers history.

While you know that we ran both parts of the play on Saturday, what you may not know is that we turned our lobby into a bistro, complete with tables chairs, candles and the whole nine yards, so that patrons who chose to do so, could enjoy a boxed dinner without ever leaving the building. For those who wanted something more substantial than a sandwich, we turned our rehearsal hall into a beautiful dining room, complete with chandeliers, red silk table cloths and gold-rimmed china, and offered a catered holiday dinner. The set-up for these dinners was handled by the PRC admin staff, led by Assistant Development Director Shane Hudson and Company Manager Jeff Stanley, Production Manager Michael Rolleri, technical graduate students, and work study students. Shane and Jeff actually coordinated all the day’s events, and not to be outdone by the costume designers, created their own giant chart! It was up to them to coordinate not only these dinners but all the behind-the-scenes events.

Our lobby turned bistro.

Our rehearsal hall turned restaurant.
The patrons weren’t the only ones in need of a meal on Saturday. The cast, crew and staff didn’t have time to leave the building either. Shane & Jeff arranged for two rooms to be set-up – one for a cast and crew dinner and one for staff hospitality. These two rooms were run by Information Systems Specialist Carli Webb and myself. Carli, along with cast member (and Director of Education & Outreach) Jeff Meanza, spent Friday morning stuffing 35 chicken breasts for the cast dinner. She and I spent most of the day Saturday running between the kitchen (cooking the rest of the cast dinner) and the class rooms where these events were taking place. All around us were students and admin staffers setting-up tables, moving chairs, arranging flowers, helping caterers, plating food trays – absolutely constant activity. 

Carli Webb & the cast dinner.

The cast refueling between shows.

Did I mention that in addition to all of this, there were our standard donor receptions in the Paul Green Gallery for not one, but all three intermissions? And as always the evening was topped off with our traditional Gala in the lobby. So not only did all these dinners have to be set-up, most of  them had to be broken down during Act I (approx. 1 hour) of Part II, so the Gala could be set-up during Acts II & III. All in all it was roughly a fourteen hour day for the administrative staff – nothing to new to folks actually working on the show, of course. As the Gala got underway and we could all breathe a sigh of relief, (before washing more dishes) all were still smiling through the exhaustion. That was the moment when I realized “This is Why I Work Here.” When Carli actually said it out loud, there was resounding agreement. We know it on  the days when total cooperation by all is a must; when it’s do-or-die; when everything is at stake; when our minds are as tired as our feet; we know that this really is a once in a lifetime experience and we’re all extremely lucky to be part of it. It’s a feeling of wow – look what we did in one day. What a truly gratifying experience!

Our Box Office staff managed to stay chipper all night! Assistant Manager Scott Cowart, Rob Fox and work study student D.J. Rogers.

Shane Hudson takes one last turn with a mop before calling it a night!

If you’ve got what it takes to Spend a Day at the Theatre, you’ve got one more opportunity. Saturday, December 19 both parts I & II will be performed back-to-back and we’ll be transforming our lobby into a bistro again! I highly recommend it. It’s quite a sense of accomplishment to make it to the finish line and the show, by all accounts is fantastic!
—Andrea Akin, Editor 
Nicholas Nickleby Page to Stage