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Backstage bees pollinate Beehive
SoVaNow.com / May 01, 2014Little Theatre’s Beehive is rocking the Prizery, and the show is amazing. It is evident that the band, the beautiful dancers, and the talented divas have worked extremely hard to perfect every song and movement and tie things together seamlessly into an experience not to be missed. And if you look closely, you’ll see that there are a whole army of workers behind the scenes whose talents, dedication, and tireless efforts have together created all the details which make live theatre such a unique art form.
The crew of Beehive … directors, producers, choreographers, builders, costumers, seamstresses, stage managers, stage hands, writers, house workers, technicians, painters… have all contributed many hours towards making sure every detail of the production is perfect, and though they might tell you they’re exhausted from the experience, you’ll notice that all of them are extremely proud of the results of their efforts and excited to be a part of Beehive.
Costume mistress LaTonya Sadler, who describes her job as “taking the director’s big ideas and pulling it all together,” puts it, “I knew it was a huge undertaking.” Had she known she’d end up being in charge of close to 200 costumes which all reflect various parts of the 1960’s, and include very specific looks and details, from Jackie Kennedy to Janis Joplin, with wigs galore and lots of go-go boots, she might have been a bit overwhelmed.
However, director Vicky Thomasson never doubted LaTonya’s ability to make it all happen. According to Vicky, “She’s the most organized person I’ve ever met. She’s a costuming machine!” LaTonya laughingly agrees, “I’m so organized I even get on my own nerves sometimes.”
Latonya has spent countless hours online, traveling to Danville or Durham, searching for just “the perfect thing” over and over again. Then came the task of organizing where each piece needed to be kept, which is a huge challenge when you have eight divas and 11 dancers who all change costumes every few minutes. For this task, LaTonya and her assistant Alison Streeter rely on spreadsheets and lots of detailed planning. As LaTonya describes it, “It’s like herding cats!”
Costumes which couldn’t be found were created. Seamstress Courtney Thomasson has designed and created special outfits for Beehive, including those of Grace Slick (Woodstock) and Connie Francis. She’s altered, measured, pinned, sewed, reworked, and redesigned many other costumes for this show. “Just call her the miracle worker,” said Vicky when asked about Courtney’s contributions.
Courtney describes it as a labor of love, saying this experience has “given me my love of sewing back.” Susi Robbins, whose imaginative costumes have been seen in many HCLT productions, created The Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts for this production.
Courtney is well known in the community for her musical talents; she is an experienced and respected vocal coach and piano teacher, and she teaches an early childhood group called Music Garden. She is also the vocal coach for Beehive, working with vocal director Jane Sibley to share techniques with all the singers which will enhance their performances. “I teach them to sing with their whole body, not just from here,” she says, pointing to her lips. “It’s been a wonderful experience.”
The technical crew of Beehive consists of lighting and sound specialists, headed up by Chris Hatcher (sound) and Chris Elliott (lighting). Both of these specialists bring lots of experience and expertise to the job which has enabled them and their teams to add details which take Beehive over the top. As Drew Granger, special effects specialist, puts it, “I love the POP lighting effects can add. I love anything I can take and ramp it up.”
Among the unsung heroes of this production, Cyndi Overby ranks right at the top of the list. She’s the stage manager for Beehive, which means she is in charge of always knowing where everyone and everything should be, including all the costumes, and making sure that everyone and everything is in place and ready to go on stage on cue.
She’s the director’s right hand man from first rehearsal to opening night, and she’s the person who manages everything going on in the wings and backstage areas during performances.
This vital role takes strong leadership and great organizational skills. While Cyndi shies away from the spotlight, she’s earned the respect of the cast and crew with her calm demeanor and reliable guidance. As she puts it, “I can’t sing or dance, but I can run everything backstage. That’s my contribution to the success of every performance.”
Beehive opened last weekend with several sold-out performances, and continues for just one more weekend of rock and roll magic. Buy your tickets today or you might just miss the chance to see this one. Performances will be this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3 p.m. Call The Prizery at 572-8339 and press 2 for Box Office or go to http://www.prizery.com.
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