Continuing with my past updates from last week, I had the opportunity to see two exceptional national tours this past week. I saw Avenue Q at the Ahmanson theatre and Movin' Out in Thousand Oaks. The performances were excellent, but I'll just say it right now, I enjoyed Movin' Out the most. I'll clarify that it was my favorite because I love watching dance, and also because I got to go on a backstage tour of the show and talk with the production electrician of the tour.
I have listened to the Ave. Q soundtrack over the past few years, but never got around to actually seeing the show. I figured while the show was in town, I should finally go see it. I had a great seat, just a few rows back in the orchestra, which really gave an interesting perspective on the performance. While the show is dominated by puppets, it's nice to see the expressions and movements of the puppeteers in relationship to their characters. The show is full of puppets, but there are also a few human characters as well. The thing I was most impressed about was the scenic design by Anna Louizos. The thing about the set is, that it is this unique combination of a real set and a puppet theatre. There are life size doors and windows into houses, but then parts of the set open up to reveal the smaller living quarters of the puppets. I just thought the versatility of the set was great!
Movin' Out was another show I was never able to see on Broadway, so I was thrilled when I found out my lighting class would see it when the tour came through the area. I really enjoyed myself at the show because I was in the mood to watch a Rock N' Roll style show that incorporated dance. I have always enjoyed designing and watching dance, but some of Twyla Tharp's choreography just captivated me so much. I had never seen combinations and so much cohesive movement before. I am not surprised that she won the 2003 Tony.
The most enjoyable part of the show, was of course getting to go backstage and talk to Chris Herman, the touring production electrician. As a lighting designer, you sit, watch and enjoy a show, but all you're really trying to do is figure out what type of lights are being used, color choices, and if anything is broken or not working right. So it was some relief actually finding out that Mac 2000s and Mac 500s were used for the bulk of the show, and a lot of conventional fixtures with scrollers. It was also interesting to find out about the load-in and load-out process for the tour and problems that are encountered and have to be solved. It was certainly an interesting perspective to find out and be reminded that things don't always run smoothly
So the winner of the national tour battle is Movin' Out, but Avenue Q came in close behind in my book.