Orpheum summer musical trains Iowa students
With just weeks before the opening performance, the IVCCD Orpheum, its staff, performers, interns, and students are preparing mightily for the premiere of this summer’s feature production, Something’s Afoot.
“It’s been absolutely fantastic to get back to the Orpheum to work with Pip and the rest of the production staff,” says Chris Winnemann, Technical Director and Special Effects Designer for Something’s Afoot. Winnemann worked as the Orpheum Technical Director for the first two years before heading back to school at UMKC last year to earn his Masters degree in Technical Direction and theater automation. “I enjoy being a mentor to these undergraduate students and helping them succeed in their role for this intricate production.”
Winnemann has his hands full, as this production isn’t the “same old song and dance”.
“This is the most detailed production I‘ve ever been a part of. Most productions have about one or two special effects, tops. This has upwards of 10 special effects.” But the added detail isn’t discouraging the young technical director. “It makes my job more fun. I love coming up with interesting and unique ways to incorporate stunning effects to enhance the audience’s experience as much as possible.”
Winnemann has some help, too. Guest Artist, Leonard Curtis, is the Associate Set Designer and Scenic Artist for the production. “It’s great to be back working with an old friend,” says Curtis. Curtis has known Pip for over 25 years and says it’s a great pleasure to work with her again.
Curtis says he has enjoyed the freedom to explore various paints when creating the set and scenery for the musical.
“I love that this production has made the painting aspect a top priority and integral part of the production process. We are able to focus a great deal of time into the paint. By doing that, we have succeeding in making the set look like a real English country home.”
Designed by Pip Gordon, the setting is a wealthy English country estate so mahogany floors and fluted trim are required—all faux painted by master scenic painter Leonard Curtis. The sound and lighting supervisor for the production is Mike Hunter who directs student light board and sound board operators. The production requires all kinds of sound effects ranging from explosions to storms to singing birds. The Sound Designer is returning guest artist, Stew Ives from CenterStage in Baltimore. His residency allows students to get ‘real-world’ training and contacts for work in the profession. Lighting Designer Pip Gordon is assisted by UNI student and Marshalltown native, Allie Smith and Grant Gale, the first graduate of the MCC Entertainment Design Program.
“The intersection of the Orpheum Performance Series and the Entertainment Design Technology program allows us the opportunity to give students in Iowa an excellent summer training program in which they work beside theater professionals and teachers at the highest end of the discipline,” says Pip Gordon, Orpheum Executive Director. “Not only do we have interns with us—12 to be exact—we have six professors and theater professionals who are also on the EDT Program Advisory Board working with us in some capacity this summer. Our technical interns and crew include students from MCC, MHS, GHS, East Marshall HS and UNI. We also have acting interns who are required to contribute to the technical work of the play—it is a team effort.”
The production has required long hours and excellent training. With it comes another level of support through the Orpheum Theater Guild, the volunteer wing of the Orpheum. The ‘Adopt an Artist’ program has interns and visiting artists over to entertain and eat a wonderful home cooked meal at a Marshalltown residence. Jeannine Loros organized five such dinners. Host homes are Sue and Lew Miller, Mary and Tom Curley, Dave and Diana Swanson, Jan Craft and Jane Bauer. The Guild has also organized dinners. Guild President Martha Schwandt and Vice President, Linda Huge organized ‘Wednesday at Six’ meals for the hard working tech crews. Contributors for those meals so far are Sally Wilson, Jean Bergen, Martha and Linda and a host of Marshalltown residents who offer a welcoming smile to our students.
The Orpheum Performance Series Internship program is specifically supported by grants from Theisen’s and the Union Pacific Foundation so that rental costs for three MCC dorm apartments could be covered.
Performances are set for June 21-23 and June 27-30. All of the Thursday, Friday and Saturday performances will take place at 8 pm while both of the Sunday showings are at 2 pm. Seating is limited in the intimate black box theater so getting your tickets early is strongly encouraged. Tickets are $18 general admission and $12 for students and children. To get your tickets, contact the Orpheum Theater Center at 641-844-5919. For more information, visit www.OrpheumCenter.com.
Something’s Afoot is an Orpheum Performance Series production and is made possible by a matching grant from the Martha Ellen Tye Foundation and with contributing major sponsors: Alliant Energy Foundation, Union Pacific, Fisher Controls–Emerson Process Management, MMSC, RACOM, MCVB, US Bancorp Foundation, Theisen’s and Zeno’s Pizza.
The Orpheum Theater Center is administered by Iowa Valley Community College District and demonstrates IVCCD’s vitality and commitment to partnering, educating and building our communities.
Photo 1: Orpheum Performance Series student interns work hard at learning lines and building the set.
Photo 2: Leonard Curtis (left) works with East Marshall student Haley Krough (right) on painting techniques.
Photo 3: Orpheum Performance Series student Interns enjoy an ‘Adopt an Artist’ meal at the home of Mary and Tom Curley.