Wicked Returns to Richmond In a Massive Scale
Broadway shows are usually more elaborate than your average theater production, now imagine putting that impressive production on the back of a truck and taking it around the country and it becomes a logistical feat few can really comprehend.
When Wicked opens later this week at the Altria Theater, it will happen because of the almost 100 stage engineers crafting the complex and elaborate production for Richmond audiences to enjoy. It takes about 14 trucks to move the show. The 100+, including 50 local, stage hands have mastered the art of stage production and you’re sure to see their fine work when you come out .
“It’s a well oiled machine, and they’ve encountered every problem,” said David O’Brien, Wicked’s Production Stage Manger. He spoke to GayRVA amid the rumble and clanging which unfolded behind him on stage.
O’Brien knocked on the Altria theater’s wooden seats for good luck. “I’ve been very fortunate, and I let people do their job until I need to step in and I’ve been real fortunate with the help we have.”
O’Brien’s over 30 years backstage is mainly in Broadway production, but he said Wicked’s touring production is equal to many of the broadway shows he was a part of in the past. “It’s Broadway on wheels, and the talent pool is great,” he said. “The casts switch around, with people from the broadway company coming in and tour people going to Broadway.”
After two years on staff with Wicked as it tours, O’Brien said the show manages to stay fresh, and RVA audiences are sure to get another great chance to enjoy the show even though it’s been through Richmond twice before. “Going from city to city freshens up the show. People freshen up because they discover new things. Their energy is high coming into new shows,” he said. “We’re fortunate because we have the luxury of working on a piece that the audience really loves.”
Managing that many people in a touring setting isn’t very easy either. While O’Brien handles the back stage magic, Steve Quinn, Wicked’s Company Manager, handles the actors and other people brought along to keep the show running. If someone gets sick, needs a hotel room, or needs anything really, Quinn is their man.
“They are athletes in their own way – when the actors aren’t at the show performing ,they’re at the gym, doing pilates, they keep in tremendous shape,” said Quinn of the cast. “Especially the two women who play the witches. They say they live like nuns and hermits cause they have to keep quiet and watch their diet. And different cities with different climates and allergy seasons. It’s amazing.”
Quinn’s been in the touring production of Wicked for some time, but he still loves to poke his head out at the end of the night and hear the audience cheer.
“Every night, someone is seeing their first broadway show, and someone is seeing their last broadway show,” said Quinn. “And that’s what keeps us motivated and keeps us working hard.”
“I love coming back to show my family and friends what I left to pursue.”March 6, 2017
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