I joined Northumberland Players seven years ago. I was cutting my front hedge when Mary Lou Secord walked by and we chatted about getting involved with volunteering. I told her I was interested in community theatre and she said she would pass my name and contact info to someone at Northumberland Players. The next day I received a text from Valerie Russell which said “Hello, this is Val of NP, I am producing a play this fall and need an ASM. We will be rehearsing this summer, it’s real easy. Let me know if you are interested ASAP”. I said YES!
The play was God of Carnage. Val was the producer, Tim Russell was the director, Anne-Marie Bouthillette was the stage manager and there was a stellar cast of Heather Jopling, David Hoare, Neil Torrie and Christine Stone. I was in awe sitting in the Firehall Theatre watching this experienced troupe interact. I couldn’t wait to go to rehearsal every night.
During one hostile scene, one of the actors (Christine Stone) becomes so distressed that she throws up as she is arguing with her husband as she sits on the couch. The ingenious Tim Russell built a machine that produced vomit that was emitted through a tube operated backstage and ran under the floor, through the couch cushion and up through Christine’s dress sleeve. I was responsible for turning on the “vomitron” at the exact time that Christine started wretching. Some performances, it worked perfectly. Several performances the vomit was either too thick or thin which resulted in liquid squirting out to the audience or not at all. Every night was a crap shoot and I would be sweating like a fiend. It was fabulous!
I have worked on 11 productions since that time in various roles, all backstage, from lighting and sound operator, to props, stage manager, and producer. I have had the privilege of working at The Firehall Theatre, Best Western Dinner Theatre, Capitol Theatre and Victoria Hall. Every show in every theatre was a magical experience for me.
Certainly it was fabulous working with so many talented actors and directors, but the true magic for me was working with all the hidden figures behind the stage. The props people who so carefully managed the props so meticulously, the lighting and sound and tech team who worked tireless hours before and after each show to ensure everything was perfect. Our amazing set designers, set decor team, set builders and painters who transformed the director’s vision to what the audience experiences in the theatre. The choreographer, musical director, pit band and conductor are so integral to any musical production. And the fantasy makers, our extraordinary team of costume designers and hair and makeup artists, who spent hundreds of hours to complete the vision.
I feel very grateful and honoured to have worked on many productions with the talented and gracious Muriel White. Muriel was the hair and makeup designer for every NP show for over 40 years. Sadly, Muriel passed away in 2019. She taught me a lot about hair but much more about life. About being humble and behaving coolly backstage when things get heated up and most important of all, being kind.
I miss my theatre friends both on and off stage. But as Muriel always did, I will try to be patient and wait quietly behind the scenes, until we meet again.