The energy surrounding the Saline Area Players’ upcoming production, The Carol Burnett Show: Your Favorite Sketches, is contagious. Not only is the cast enthused as we rehearse these hilarious comedy sketches, but the community has been tremendously involved in this collaboration. Community involvement is one huge piece of what goes on behind the scenes of a production. It all started with a casual conversation between a SAP board member and Nancy Byers of Stone Arch Arts and Events. They spoke last fall of a collaboration dinner theater and over half a year later, it is coming to fruition, with plenty of community help.
It is virtually impossible to do a show without connecting with others to help make it happen. Here’s an example: we have to make a set. To do that requires set pieces, tools, paint, etc. But before that, we need a set design. We’re lucky to have Leo Babcock in our group, who is also a local architect in Saline. He has designed many of our sets for us and his drawings are incredibly detailed, down to wallpaper suggestions and pictures on the wall. Check out the scene design gallery on the Babcock Design Studio website where you can see not only sketches, but also completed sets. Yep, that’s me churning butter in Oklahoma.
So once we have the set, we need flats that we build and paint. For example, we have to make a flat and insert a window into it because many people look out the window during the show. (“Miss Starlet, isn’t that Captain Butler’s carriage?”) We also need a flat with a door – coming in and out of the door is an ongoing gag, especially in As the Stomach Turns as various guests come into the home.
We’ve collaborated with the Saline Area Schools and Saline Community Education for years. They allow us to use their scene shops. We have flats stored there (which are also used during student productions) and we use the space to build sets. It is not unusual at all for us to borrow things from the high school and for us to lend things to them (props/furniture). In fact, some props have been on stage in Saline more than any of the actors. Then, of course, to paint the sets requires people. Once in awhile we’re lucky to have a local artist help us with the sets, especially when skilled artwork is needed. Although we don’t need fancy set painting this go around, Two Twelve Arts Center is making commemorative tickets for the show, a lovely artistic touch.
For this production, we’re performing in downtown Saline at Stone Arch Arts and Events. This beautiful historic building is a perfect place to perform in - it is downtown, has great parking, is a wide open space with flexible seating and staging areas, and can handle a nice-sized audience. We are incredibly lucky that we are not only renting the space, but Nancy Byers is helping us organize the dinner theater part of the show. She’s working with many local volunteers from Music Under the Arch. And she’s helped us by securing a local caterer to prepare the meal, Jennifer Davey, a certified chef through the American Culinary Federation, who is the catering director at Evangelical Homes Brecon Village. Local…local…local!
We’re doing a little bartering… volunteers from MUTA help us and we let them use our lights. But that’s not all. SAP has been a member of the Saline Area Chamber of Commerce for years. Again, we share. We’ve brought many shows to downtown Saline, which we hope bring business and entertainment to our beautiful town, and we’ve been lucky to be able to use their space for some rehearsals which gives us greater visibility too. And we also collaborate with the City of Saline itself to put on a show… using their stage, and acquiring the necessary permits to put up our sandwich boards.
And, in addition, we’ve found some great local businesses that have been willing to advertise in our show. For this one, it isn’t the usual ad in the program, but instead, our director Tami Hindes is writing original commercials for our local sponsors which will be performed during each production. What better publicity can you get than that? We’re happy to have these sponsors: Cunningham Vision, Powerhouse Gym, Briarwood Ford (commercial to be performed by our own SAP actor Pat Collins who also works there), and The Fabulous Mr. Fix It. The businesses get to say what they want advertised and to “ok” the ads which all have a different flavor. The cast is having a blast with these commercial spots. And we couldn’t do a show without the generosity of so many businesses in Saline who allow us to put up our posters and flyers in their windows or on their bulletin boards. I am not good at asking for favors, but it is easy in such a generous town, and I now have a list of those places that say “yes” every time!
And none of this happens without a large Saline Area Players’ community of folks who work tirelessly from show to show overseeing all kinds of details like set construction, props, costumes, tickets, publicity, poster design, lighting, sound… the list goes on and on.
We are thrilled to be part of a community that supports one another.