Taking a show this size across an international border can be a lot of hard work. Most of the time, however, it’s not as bad as it seems it’s going to be. First off some numbers:
- 6 – 53′ Trailers, packed full, to move the show from city to city.
- 87 – Number of boxes on my truck (not sure about the others since I don’t pack them)
- 54 – Number of people who travel with the show (25 cast, 5 management, 14 crew, 4 musicians, 3 merch, 2 child chaperones, 1 tutor)
- 7 – Number of dogs who travel with people who travel with the show.
The preliminary work involved is all paperwork. Making sure each box or piece in the truck is listed in inventory including information about value and country of origin. This is less strict when simply crossing into Canada but we complete a CARNET as if we were shipping overseas just to be safe. Company management does a lot of work making sure everyone has a valid passport. As entertainers and support staff we are not required to have a work visa for this trip to Canada. That makes things a little easier.
Typically the crew will travel separately from the cast but for a border crossing we all travel together in case there are any issues. On this show we breezed through Canadian customs and spent more time waiting for our bus to arrive at the terminal.
The venue was the Toronto Centre for Performing Arts in North York. It is a 30-40 minute subway commute from downtown. I’m used to this from living in New York but it seemed many of our cast and crew were irritated by the extra time. My irritation came from the fact that there are many lovely theater spaces downtown and being out in a suburb means low foot traffic and few single ticket sales. I have no financial stake in putting more butts in the seats. It’s just that a house almost always behaves better, acoustically speaking, when it is full. This room was one of those that just doesn’t sound good. It’s not terrible–there are no huge reflections or massive decay times that cripple intelligibility. It just doesn’t sound good. After fighting with the room for a couple nights I think the show settled in to something quite pleasant and we finished out our two week run enjoying a city with a little culture and night life.
Speaking of culture and nightlife . . . or lack thereof . . . our next stop was Schenectady, NY. Proctor’s Theater has no business being in a town this size. It is a beautiful mid-20s vaudeville house that was was built at the peak of Schenectady’s time as a major trade center as the headquarters of GE and the point of connection to the Erie Canal. The other thing that seemingly has no business in this small town is the massive d&B Audioteknik rig installed here. Unfortunately, the way our coverage is designed, I can’t really just leave my PA on the truck. I still used my towers (5 MeyerSound UPQ and 1 600HP) left and right. I did use the house center cluster (8 d&b Q1) instead of my L’Acoustics cluster of dvDosc and ARCS. The theater’s stage house has been expanded in recent years to accommodate larger broadway tours. I think The Lion King was responsible for this renovation. We were greatly appreciative of the added space. The upside of playing a small town is that usually you are the biggest thing happening that week. We were very well taken care of by a few local merchants and it made for a nice week in an otherwise dreary city.
Buffalo was next up on the schedule. Keep in mind I’m just now starting this blog but this all happened months ago. We’re up to December now. And in Buffalo. Brrrrr. Or at least we thought so when looking at the tour route. In actuality, we have been very fortunate with weather. There was one day when the wind turned around and blew off the lake but for the most part we have escaped what could have been a miserable winter.
Based on my advance and looking at pictures and drawings, I decided to use the house center cluster at Shea’s in Buffalo. It was made up of some older EAW trap boxes but the coverage looked pretty good. It’s also dead-hung so it takes an act of congress to get it taken down. In the end, I think I should have pushed to have them take it down. It worked, but it took a lot of extra time to get it right. We had great audiences in Buffalo as they have a very strong subscription base to their Broadway shows. After a couple off weeks the cast was very happy to be performing to sold out houses again. A happy cast makes for an easier job and therefore and happy sound man. It’s kind of like in sports when they say “winning fixes everything”. I don’t know that it translates exactly but a packed house full of laughter makes it much easier to have fun.