In the Arena, 4/10

BY TODD HUNT
Welcome back to the blog. I took an unexpected leave of absence from this space last week when things got a little crazy with our performance of “Cats.” We had a sold-out show, which was wonderful for our first foray into Broadway. We also learned a few things that will help us the next time a similar show comes to town. Here’s a taste of what happened:
3 p.m. THURSDAY – We discover that the final stage arrangement will prevent nearly 300 ticket holders from viewing the majority of the show. Before the show went on sale we had reviewed the technical documents provided by the tour and verified that the seats opened up to sell for the event would have sufficient sight lines. However, what was set up did not match with what we were expecting. With a little over four hours until showtime we had to come up with a plan to relocate these 300 fans. Thanks to our top notch staff we were able to relocate everyone to seats with better views.
6:30 p.m. THURSDAY – Our staff is in place and ready to open doors at our customary time one hour prior to showtime. We now know that on Broadway, the theatre doors open 30 minutes prior to showtime. After much discussion with the show personnel (who must give approval to open the doors), we were finally able to open the doors around 6:50PM. Not quite what we wanted, but a compromise we could live with.
7:10 p.m. THURSDAY – The rain begins to fall outside. Actually it’s not really falling, it’s blowing sideways! A strong thunderstorm rumbles through downtown Tupelo bringing high winds, heavy rains, and the threat of a tornado. We are actively monitoring the weather radio and radar images to determine the need to evacuate the patrons, staff, cast and crew. We experience a couple of power surges but do not lose power in the arena. We decide that the threat of tornado activity is not great enough to require evacuation. To accommodate the patrons who were delayed by the weather the show agrees to delay starting the performance until 7:35 p.m. (five minutes late).
7:40 p.m. THURSDAY – We’re one song into the show when an announcement comes over the show’s PA system that a technical glitch will force the show to stop. It turns out that one of the moving props that was supposed to descend from the rigging above the stage did not move on cue. For safety reasons, the show had to stop until the prop could be checked out. From what we gathered from the show’s traveling crew, this had only happened once before in the history of the show. Somehow that doesn’t make me feel special, though. After a short delay, we are able to resume the performance.
1 a.m. FRIDAY – Our crews are loading the last truck of show equipment when a loud boom echoes through the arena and everything plunges into total darkness. After investigating, we find that a small piece of confetti from a streamer cannon used in the show managed to float out of the arena and landed just right on an outdoor electrical transformer, causing the transformer to short out. Luckily a crew from Tupelo Water & Light was in the vicinity and was able to get us back online within a few hours. In the spirit of “the show must go on,” the stage crew finished loading the last truck by flashlight…
That’s a snippet of how our last week went. Thankfully this week has been much smoother. We’ll hope that trend continues with Alan Jackson paying us a visit on Thursday, April 16. Good tickets still remain and with prices starting at $35, it’s a great chance to see a true country superstar in your own backyard.
Since I missed last week’s blog, I didn’t get a chance to use “Cat Scratch Fever” as my song of the week. I thought it went quite well with the show (plus, my knowledge of show tunes is extremely limited!). This week I’ll have to go with “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.” I’m thinking we’ll get to hear that one live next week…
That’s it for this week’s blog. Happy Easter to everyone and have a great week!
Until next time,
Todd