It’s almost showtime for Sister Act

Props assistants Julia Adam (left) and Jan Brown look over some of the items being used in Sister Act at the Civic Theatre.

THERE’S been some magic happening backstage at the Civic Theatre these past few weeks.

Cast and crew of Invercargill Musical Theatre’s (IMT) production Sister Act have been busy building sets, learning their on-stage cues and preparing for opening night tomorrow.

IMT is part of a consortium of musical theatre societies throughout the country who have pooled together to produce blockbuster shows, such as The Phantom of the Opera, Mary Poppins and now Sister Act.

Vice-president Bernadette Gourley said this enabled IMT to hire the set, wardrobe and props for this year’s show, which would then be shipped on to the next centre to use.

Sister Act includes some great new technology – travellators (a moving walkway) and LED lighting panels which are used to create different scenes.

Hendrix Grant mans the lighting desk.

“The technology is getting more and more exciting,” she said.

“We’re very fortunate that we get the opportunity to use it and that we have expertise available to us to programme it, run it and create a visually fabulous production.”

IMT president Fergus More said the gear for the show arrived in three containers – a 40ft and two 20ft.

He said the travellators were interesting because they sat on top of the floor and the crew created a false floor around them.

“It enables cast and props to be moved on to the stage at a variable pace.”

Mechanist Dave Gill agreed it was a pretty technologically advanced show.

“The travellator, the automated screen movement, they’re two elements people may not have seen before. I’ve never worked with them before in a show like this.”

This was combined with more traditional items, such as the ornate frame of the church, mirror balls operated by a fly system and a genuine Wurlitzer jukebox.

“Some of the pieces of scenery have been salvaged from churches in Christchurch… Some of the trim parts are the real deal.”

Gill said the lighting panels moved and changed to quickly create different backgrounds, such as the stained glass windows of the church and a police station. Some moved side to side, while others moved up and down thanks to computerised cues.

“They move in multiple directions and create all the scenery behind them.”

By opening night the cast will have been in rehearsal for 11 weeks. However, they only moved into the theatre recently.

Flymen Bill Obers and Jeff Ross showed us the ropes during a behind-the-scenes tour of Invercargill Musical Theatre production Sister Act.

“What they haven’t had is the scenery.”

Gill said this meant they had a “technical rehearsal” last Saturday to add in the rest of the layers.

“There’s lots of scenery moving in and out. [We get the] cast in so they can see it and tweak each scene to get it right.”

Along with choreographing the set-pieces and lighting for the show, More said there were also 16 dressers changing the nun’s costumes in quickfire time and people doing hair and make-up.

While there were about 33 cast members on stage, there were more than 60 backstage, Gourley said.

“What happens off stage is as much a production as what happens on stage.”

Sister Act, Civic Theatre, July 7-22, 7.30pm. Matinee shows July 9 and 16, 2pm.

Tickets available from the Invercargill City Council booking office and TicketDirect.

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