We were able to load out of New Orleans in 6.5 hours. I was fairly impressed with that time for our first go at it. Unfortunately, due to some questionable scheduling, that did mean we would be late getting to St. Louis. Luckily there was a little bit of extra time built in for this jump.
Typically we fly from city to city but because we weren’t exactly sure when we would get done with the load-out the crew was scheduled on a sleeper bus. And while what happens on the bus stays on the bus we definitely had to stop for more beer. Twice. Everyone was happy to have tech over with and start getting into a normal routine.
For a normal move we will typically load out on Sunday night, travel overnight or Monday morning, load in Monday evening for 5 hours, come back and finish load-in starting at 8am Tuesday, and open Tuesday night. In St. Louis we were planning on a Wednesday opening. For one, that gave a little extra cushion in case something went wrong. But the main reason is because of the fly system in New Orleans.
Remember that we were in New Orleans largely because of tax breaks offered by Louisiana. What this means is that the theater may not have necessarily been ideal for us to rehearse in. In reality it was all perfectly fine but there was one MAJOR difference. The Mahalia Jackson has an automated fly system. Meaning all show drops and pieces that will be manually operated by five stagehands from a counterweight fly rail in every other city were programmed automation in the city where we did technical rehearsals. Because of that we needed an extra day of rehearsals for our head flyman to coordinate and practice all of these moves and make sure that everything was safe and happening at the right time. They did a great job getting it all down very quickly.
If you have never been inside the Fabulous Fox Theater in St. Louis, MO, you really owe it to yourself to check it out if the opportunity presents itself. It is unbelievably ornate and the detail and craftsmanship really point out a bygone era. I’ve been told that the man building the theater said, “I gave my wife an unlimited budget to furnish and decorate this theater. She exceeded it.”
At 4500 seats it is nearly twice the size of the average theaters we play. Because of this we subrented a little extra gear for this two week stop. We hung six Meyer M’elodie per side off of some house truss to serve as balcony delay fills. The Fox is always a tough room but I think we represented the show well there, especially for our first move. The associate designer made the first jump with us and helped get things dialed in. It’s always great to have an extra set of ears. During our run there was an article written about some recent renovations to the Fox and how you could really see where the money was spent. One of there observations was that “the new sound system was nearly perfect” during a performance of The Addams Family earlier that week. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that there is no permanently installed sound system in that theater and instead quietly took a little satisfaction that people were happy.
After a solid two week run in St. Louis we loaded out and moved the show to Charlotte, NC. We were in Ovens auditorium and it was my first time in that building. I had played The Belk theater downtown with “In The Heights” and had much of the same local crew so that part was nice. I think the show may have been a little loud over the next couple weeks after coming out of the cavernous (I mean Fabulous) Fox. It took me a bit to find the right system balance for these more typically sized rooms. More on this when I do that system tuning post I mentioned earlier.
Charlotte was a one week stop. No drama, no issues. The load-out speeded up significantly and we got it down to 4.5 hours. Next up, a month in Florida.