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Layers peeled back for SUDS production

South Boston News
All things in place - Halifax COunty Little Theatre's upcoming production of SUDS is getting closer to opening night, April 24 at The Prizery. All props and set pieces are integral to telling any story on stage, and this time, it's a story told through music. Visit for showtimes and ticket information or call The Prizery box office at 572-8339. Get your tickets early! / April 11, 2010
By Kirk Compton
Special to the News & Record

When witnessing any masterful piece of fine art – whether visual, vocal, or auditory – it’s important to take note of the many layers which make it great. Famous paintings reveal layers of color and composition, celebrated singers evoke the many layers of emotion that a song can contain, and all notable composers demonstrate varying levels of tone and harmony in their great works.

One of the easiest venues for observing multiple character layers and threads of a story coming together would have to be within the theatre. No where else is it as evident when something is not quite right. Often times the one aspect that can subtly enhance a performance or be glaringly off are in a production’s properties or ‘props’ as they are commonly known.

For Halifax County Little Theatre board member Melissa Elmes, having appropriate props is a vital part of maintaining a show’s validity. She says, “without props, the show would lack the realism and sense of three-dimensionality within the spectacle. If there’s a conversation on the phone, but there’s no phone, or a character receives a letter, but there’s no letter, it damages the audience’s sense of truth in the play.”

Bill Granger, a Halifax County native who’s participated in many HCLT productions throughout the years, agrees and puts it in other terms. “A show without props would be like having no windshield wipers in a down pouring rain … if you have a murder mystery where someone gets shot and you don’t have a gun then the production cannot go on” he says.

These two forces – Elmes and Granger – are combining their talents and experience to ensure HCLT’s upcoming production of SUDS, directed by Vicky Thomasson, does not fall short due to a lack of props. The pair, who’ve been working on the lengthy list of items needed for over a month, are tackling the task of locating everything the actors use from a single pencil on up.

“Essentially, we are responsible for obtaining every object the performers work with throughout the show. It means a lot of digging about in attics, basements, spare rooms, garage sales, home offices, Goodwill stores, and of course, our [HCLT’s] downtown storage facility,” says Elmes.

Granger adds that those helping closely with the show, as well as people in the community and area businesses, are always very generous in lending needed items for shows.

“Finding props can be fun and also frustrating. When we had our first meeting at Vicky’s house with the production crew, as we were reading off the list different people spoke up and said ‘I have that’ which right off makes your job easier. In addition, local businesses and people in the community have always been generous with us when we ask to borrow something,’ he says.

While collecting these various odds and ends can sometimes be overwhelming, Elmes notes that the inventory for SUDS is fairly manageable.

Elmes said, “SUDS is a fairly small show in terms of props – there are probably about forty or fifty items on the list. Some of our [HCLT’s] past performances have literally had hundreds of props to gather!”

When asked what the most difficult prop(s) to locate for SUDS have been the answer from both is unanimous – anything period specific. This includes a 1950/60’s tool belt, a non-electric iron, cameras, magazines and the like.

With seasoned director Vicky Thomasson at the helm, these minor distinctions between decades can make all the difference. She expects the utmost from everyone involved – both onstage and off. Her enthusiasm and precedence for excellence have added to the quality of the performances that she’s previously directed and SUDS is no exception.

Granger notes, “when she [Thomasson] does a production she gives it her all.”

Elmes concurs, “Vicky has more energy in her left pinky finger than I can summon in a week – it’s incredible to watch her in action. I love seeing her vision come to life in rehearsals and on stage.

While it’s certainly true that there isn’t one aspect of a show that’s more important than another, props – and those that oversee them – deserve their time in the limelight. I encourage you and yours to pay close attention to the props in SUDS while attending a performance.

SUDS opens April 24 at The Prizery. Tickets for adults are $15 and students are $5. Halifax County Little Theatre suggests getting your tickets early to guarantee your chance to see this show. Tickets are now on sale at The Prizery box office (572-8339) and at

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