Ever wonder how much stuff you can pack into a 10-foot-by-10-foot space? If you live in Evergreen, the answer is two cast members, one director, five crew members, a full-size set, props, costumes, and … an award-winning theater production.
On March 12, the Evergreen Players participated in the American Association of Community Theatres Regional Theater Festival with the show “Parallel Lives.” The Players took home six awards and will take the show to the national competition in Rochester, N.Y., in June.
“These festivals are such a unique experience,” says Lisa DeCaro, one of the two actresses in the show. “It’s not just about the acting. It’s about the entire theatrical experience, with each group working on a level playing field.”
This level playing field begins with the 10-by-10 square. Each of the 12 groups the Players competed against was required to fit all of its production belongings into the same size space. This included a cast of 21 members, music stands for stage managers or rolling costume racks for multiple wardrobe changes.
Once the load-in is complete, each team has an 80-minute tech rehearsal. Teams use this time to demo their set in the stage space, program their light and sound cues into the tech boards, and squeeze in last-minute blocking notes. After the rehearsal, teams must return everything to their taped off square, including every last feather floating off feather boas or cap from discarded water bottles. All before the last second ticks off the time clock.
“We call it ‘stopwatch theater,’ ” DeCaro says. “The entire experience is stressful but also filled with a wonderful sort of energy.”
The Players jumped each stopwatch hurdle and went on to deliver a 60-minute production that took home top honors in almost every category: Best Production; Best Director, Len Matheo; Best Tech Team; Outstanding Set Design, Peggy Morgan Stenmark; Outstanding Ensemble and Best Actress, Lisa DeCaro and Gail Montgomery.
“We’re the first group ever to split the Best Actress award. They are making a new plaque for the shared award. Although, I do think it’s fundamentally unfair. Gail should have won Best Actor for her portrayal of Hank,” jokes DeCaro.
For those unfamiliar with the show, the Players staged a full-scale production of it in January 2010. The show was written in the 1980s by movie and television actresses Mo Gaffney and Kathy Najimy. “Parallel Lives” originated as a stand-up comedy skit performed by the writers. Similar in structure to “Saturday Night Live,” it parodies life as we know it, including a sketch in which Montgomery plays Hank, the aforementioned drunken barfly, whose portrayal DeCaro believes should have warranted a Best Actor nomination for Montgomery.
Although proud of each accolade, the team is perhaps most gratified by the Outstanding Ensemble award.
“This award was given to us by the people who were part of the production team at the Bas Bleu Theatre where we competed,” says director, Len Matheo. “The award is a way of saying, ‘We want to honor your professionalism in working together as a team under these high-pressure circumstances.’ We are really proud of that recognition.”
With the regional competition behind them, the team is preparing to compete against 11 other teams in the American Association of Community Theatre’s National Festival in June. John Davis, a longtime member of the Evergreen Players board of directors, is also on the board of the American Association of Community Theatre.
“These competitions are such a learning experience for the Players,” Davis says. “Every show is workshopped at the festival and receives feedback from all three adjudicators. Comments made about our shows in past competitions have carried over into our play selections and production choices in future years. The AACT competitions have really allowed the Players to raise our caliber of production and performance.”
The cast and crew have accepted the bid to compete at nationals but now face the daunting task of raising money to transport the contents of that 10-by10 square to Rochester, N.Y. To make a donation and support their chances of winning at the competition, visit the Players’ website at www.evergreenplayers.org, and click on “Donate.”
Meanwhile, call 303-674-4934 to reserve your tickets to the Players’ current production of “The Women of Lockerbie.” The show runs through April 10 and offers the same theatrical caliber that has made the Players an award-winning company.
Sara Miller, a freelance writer and a resident of Evergreen, lives with her husband, two children and a dog.