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Summering on the Mississippi River

Preparing for summer stock is always an interesting occurrence: How much should I pack, what do I need to bring material wise, and what will have access to in the shop that has been provided. As I heading to a new summer stock, The Clinton Area Showboat, this year I am opting to pack a little more in the way of tools that I normally would. This year I am taking both my sewing machine and overlock in addition to my wig box and basic sewing kit. This may be an over kill but it’ll allow me to feel like I can approach the work with work ready for any challenge. As for clothing, I will take sever sets of dress blacks should I need to step into wardrobe, a suit for gales and then basics for my day to day. There is no use in over packing as I should be able to live in my shorts and comfortable shoes for the summer. All and all I restrict

myself to two suit cases and what additional items I might fit in the trunk of my hatchback.

As I’ve never seen the costume stock, I mailed a number of boxes that should be arriving on Monday and Wednesday of next week. I am hoping that what I pack saves us time and energy as no one like to pull a 14-16 hour days. I was smart and pulled basics that would work well in most of my shows. I pulled many wonderful items for Newsies (the first show of the season) and The Bridges of Madison County (our fourth showoff the season) as both these productions have large casts. The real hope is to only build three show girl costumes for Newsies and to move along to the out second show, Dial M for Murder. I have already discovered where we can purchase most of the clothing for this production. I with leave us with just one build, the opening dress for the leading lady. Our third show for the Clinton Area Showboat is Footloose and being designed by my assistant Abby Meyer. Abby is currently a grad student at the University of South Dakota and is hoping that the show will be mostly a pull and purchase. The final show of the season is The 39 Steps and after a long summer season I am hoping that I can pull it together from the items at the Showboat and whatever I might need to purchase.

As I was talking about my plans for the summer with my own students, they were shocked that the builds were so minimal. During the school year, we tend to build a number of items for each production. I reminded them that we do this for several reasons, to build up the stock with useful items so when we hit a crunch time we do not have to build everything, that as students they each need portfolio work and practice to keep their skills sharp. In an ambitious summer stock where the help is minimal it is helpful to think of it in the Ikea way… what can I preassemble to make my life and the lives I am working with easier. I am sure that by the end of the summer additional projects with pop up out of necessity and that the alterations we will have to do will take up time as well; however, coming in with the mind set of not building everything saves us the burden of thinking that the shows have to be a certain way. I come to many a summer stock where I have had to build everything for a designer because the show was over designed and I have been to summer stocks were the design was controlled and everyone got to go home at descent hour, had a wonderful night sleep and got to socialize and not feel like a slave to the production. I of course prefer the later.

All and all, I am excited to have the chance to work on the Mississippi River to meet new and creative individuals. With a little luck and a lot of preplanning, it is my hope that we will tape dance through the season somewhat. I’m sure I’ll post during the season.

Best to all.

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