Behind the curtain: The making of a gala

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Did you know it takes almost 100 volunteers to put on the WYO’s annual gala production? In case you missed it, this year’s gala performance was “The Addams Family: A New Musical” and was it ever creepy, kooky, spooky, ooky . . . snap, snap. Today we’ll take you behind the curtain on how this production comes together year after year.

It begins when a director is asked to direct, and a show is chosen. This year, “The Addams Family” was selected in May. Then the planning begins. The gala committee comes together and meets about theme, auction items, etc. They also start gathering. It takes about four people five months to ask for and gather all the lovely donations made to the gala auction. In addition to silent auction items, the committee starts discussing live auction items, along with items that might work well in the raffle. Those things, of course, require asking and gathering, as well.

As the auction, marketing and party planning continues, the gala production is taking shape. A music director is contacted. Scripts are ordered, set, lighting, costuming and sound designers are put in place and production meetings are scheduled. Decisions on timeline, color, characters, etc. are made. Then comes the exciting casting process. After auditions are held, the music director and director gather to make tough decisions on who would be best to play which role. As soon as the cast is announced rehearsals begin.

The completely volunteer cast will spend the next two months rehearsing four to six days a week as they prepare for the performance. Band members are selected, and they begin their own rehearsal process. As the cast prepares, so too does the set, lighting, costuming and painting crew. The set is constructed, painted and brought to the WYO stage. Costumes are gathered, made and altered to fit particular cast members. Lighting and sound are put in place and anything that needs to fly is created and/or painted and hung. This process takes over a month and once it’s in place technical rehearsals occur.

The technical crew, director, music director, band and cast now have a week to put the entire show together. Technical rehearsals typically run from a 5 p.m. call time to an  11 p.m. or midnight end. As the torture of “tech week” continues the gala committee works to put the live auction together and place the decorations. By the end of the week, opening day arrives and the show goes up.

Gala night requires an additional set of volunteers who usher, take tickets, bartend, take photos and help with the auction. Their evening begins at 4 p.m. and ends around 11 p.m. that evening.

Once gala night closes there is a final set of “encore performances” the following weekend. One more rehearsal and four more performances for the WYO team. At the end of those four shows the raffle closes and the winners are drawn, the set is “struck” by the cast and crew and all wave goodbye to another successful gala.

The number of volunteer hours put toward a successful event are in the thousands. The volunteer time along with the generosity of patrons and donors is critical toward the fundraising efforts of the event and overall financial stability of the WYO. What a tremendous gift, given by all and for the good of the theater. This old and wonderful house runneth over with gratitude.

By Erin Butler

By |Nov. 7, 2018|

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