Before the make-up goes on, a look at community theater

Submitted by Carolyn Lancaster

Carson Valley Community Theatre

Sometimes it just looks too easy by the time the audience watches a wonderful production. What's going on behind the scenes to make sure that the actors look good on stage? Here's one look at the interesting process.

First, a play is chosen. The play must be suitable for community theater and the local talent. Are the rights to the play available, affordable? Where will the play be presented, and when? Where can we rehearse?

Find someone to direct the play, someone to produce the play, and someone to stage the play. The director, producer and stage manager may have previous experience, or may be dipping their feet in the waters of community theater for the first time.

A budget goes to the community theater board for approval. With approval, the director studies the actor requirements, and sets auditions and rehearsals. The stage manager designs sets, secures a props manager, lighting tech, a sound tech. Who will help with costumes? Who will do hair and make-up? Who will design and print the programs, flyers, and posters? The producer handles the details of publicity, advertising, plus anything that helps the director.

The process sounds like, well, work. Indeed it is work. Hours of work. But by now the creative juices are flowing. The director worries that no one will audition, especially the "right" one. The stage manager edits the sets over and over, to make sure the scenery will fit the staging area and enhance the movement of the actors. The producer secures help with publicity, the selling of ads, and schedules production meetings.

The fun begins. The actors delve into their parts, first with reservation. The director knows that it takes hours of rehearsal time for the actors to become their character.

Volunteers paint set flats, make or hunt for costumes and props, hang posters and banners, write articles for the newspapers, update the theater Web site, plan the bar and food for performance nights, and sell tickets.

Did I mention that it takes a community to put together a theater production? Remember the famous quote by Hannibal on the "A-Team" TV hit show of 1983, "I love it when a plan comes together!"

Indeed, the plan is coming together, once again, for the Carson Valley Community Theatre (CVCT). Margaret Edson directs "Moon Over Buffalo," a hilarious comedy by Ken Ludwig. (Margaret had the starring role in a California production of the play.)

Carol Schwartz produces a community theater production for the first time, drawing heavily from her experience as a dancer on Broadway. Norris Edson learned the role of a stage manager from some of the best in community theater, and strives to teach others from his experience.

Volunteers? CVCT recruits volunteers not only from the ranks of past actors, but also, from anyone who wants a new experience and a powerful feeling of belonging to a team.

When you buy your ticket to see "Moon Over Buffalo," enjoy the production, but look around you. Remember the myriad of volunteers who run the bar, the lights, the sound. Remember the dressers, hair stylists, makeup artists, prop managers, and others, working backstage.

How did you hear about "Moon Over Buffalo?" Someone got the word out through lots of different mediums so that you would enjoy a great comedy.

Community theater! We love it when a plan comes together.

"Moon Over Buffalo"

Shows are at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 9, 10 and 16, 17. Sunday matinees are 2 p.m. Oct. 11 and 18. Tickets are $15 general, $12 for students and seniors. Opening night champagne and dessert Gala, $20 and $17. Tickets and dinner and show packages at (775) 720-7186. Show tickets available at Carson Valley Arts Council/Copeland Building, 1572 Highway 395, Minden, and Barone & Reed Food Co., 1599 Esmeralda, Minden. Information,


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