Tuesday, August 2, 2016.
The Smith Center’s backstage looked busier than usual on Tuesday morning, with trunks and clothing racks crowding the halls, people carefully steaming garments and stage hands sorting through equipment. This scene is business as usual for the cast and crew of the national tour for The Sound of Music. The show rolled into town on Monday, August 1 and immediately began the frenzied unloading process in order to have sets, costumes and equipment perfectly in place to open on the night of August 2.
“It’s quite something to watch them put this show up in just several hours,” says Teri Hansen, who plays the character Baroness Elsa Schraeder in the show. “We closed Sunday night in Costa Mesa, California, and we’ll be opening tonight in Las Vegas.”
It’s no small feat organizing the large-scale production, playing at The Smith Center through August 14. Moving the touring show requires six trucks fully loaded with backdrops, set pieces, costumes and more. Upon arrival at each venue, the crew gets straight to work reconstructing the five massive backdrops and corresponding set pieces that bring pre-World-War-II Austria to life. Beyond the stage work, delicate costumes must be steamed and organized, several sets of wigs must be prepped.
All of this work typically starts the day before opening at a new venue. Sometimes, it continues right up until the hour of the show.
If that wasn’t enough, the production includes 67 people to keep everything humming, including approximately 32 cast members, 13 crew members, a teacher and an established guardian for the cast’s child actors, and several management positions.
“We had planes, trains, automobiles and buses traveling yesterday across the desert,” Hansen says of all of the cast members journeying to Vegas. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for us and the children (in the cast) and their understudies to see America.”
They have plenty to keep them occupied, otherwise. For the show’s Las Vegas run, seven new cast members have joined the team – the result of actors’ changing contractual and academic obligations – which requires some extra rehearsals. In addition, children in the cast must schedule tutoring sessions outside of performances.
“It’s fun and it’s (like a big) family. You get to meet all these wonderful people,” Hansen says. “It’s heartbreaking when they go, but children grow and people move on to other shows. Then new people fill their shoes, and you get to expand your family.”
Cast members fit in time for fun, she adds. They often have opportunities to explore cities they visit and connect with friends. She especially looks forward to this in Las Vegas, where she knows many former Broadway performers currently working in Vegas shows.
“We have a lot of friends here in Las Vegas,” she says.
Even the children in the cast have a trip planned to the Grand Canyon, she notes.
The production comes together without many hiccups, especially now that the tour is well past its 300th show. Every time the curtain opens it feels fresh, Hansen says, which she attributes to the passion of the cast, the talent of Tony-award-winning Director Jack O’Brien, and the style of the revival.
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