By Joshua M. Hinton of Liberal
Back in 1993, a friend of mine convinced me to audition for the High School musical, “Grease.” I reluctantly agreed. To my surprise, I made it as an ensemble member/dancer. To my greater surprise, I loved it.
The performing arts became a passion for me since that day. Even though I was in several plays and musicals, I really became involved in the technical side of theatre. Before I finished high school, I had my first professional job. When all of my classmates were at their graduation parties, I was on the road, heading to a whole new world of the professional productions. After a while of being away, I decided to come back home, get married and give back to the organizations that got me started in this line of work.
For the past 16 years, I have worked as the stage manager, technical director, audio engineer, and lighting/special effects designer for countless shows and organizations. I devoted all my effort and experience to the technical side of productions. I hadn’t performed in a musical since 1998.
This year, I realized I started doing this whole theatre thing on a whim 20 years ago. Feeling nostalgic, I wondered what it would be like to climb out of the booth and step onto the stage again. When Rainbow Players announced they were doing “CHICAGO,” I jumped on the chance.
Going to an audition again brought back a flood of old memories and a feeling of excitement that I hadn’t felt in a long time. To my surprise, I was cast as Amos Hart, my favorite character of the show.
The lure of “CHICAGO” also brought out a bunch of new talent that we had not seen before in a Rainbow Players production. I was more than humbled to be surrounded by such unbelievable talent.
At times I felt out of place. I honestly thought, “Wow, this old techie doesn’t even compare to these amazing performers.” Still, with the Guidance of Director, Gloria Goodwin, and Musical Director, David Kerwood, I gained the confidence to do my very best.
This was my first time to work with both Gloria and David, and it was their first time working for Rainbow Players. They did a fantastic job. Gloria’s vision for the show is really what brought it all together. Add that to the insurmountable talent on and off the stage, and you have a production like no other.
Being a technical director, I also know a good crew when I see one. Led by Trina Fosdick and Bryan Peters, this was by far one of the best tech crews we have ever had. Trina came in half way through the rehearsals to take over as stage manager. Not only did she have the task of managing the cast, but she also organized the crew. For the first time she had to call all the back stage cues, spot cues and run the light board. I was a little nervous when I designed the show knowing it was her first time. There were more than 200 lighting cues alone. This would have been an arduous task for even a seasoned veteran. Still, I had complete faith that Trina and the crew could pull it off. She only had three rehearsals to prefect it, and she did. Even though she had a new crew and new spotters, they did fantastic.
Trina, Bryan, and the crew have my deepest respect and gratitude.
There were several other first in this show as well; including Jamie Mix who played Roxie Hart. Watching her incredible performance, it is hard to believe that she had never been in a musical before.
Sadly, this show was also the last for Alison Bridget Chambers. Ever since Alison’s first production at SCCC/ATS, she proved that she was taking theatre in Liberal to a whole new level. As director, she took on shows most wouldn’t have even tried. Shows like “Wizard of Oz” and “Beauty and the Beast” were some of the greatest productions this area has ever seen.
Alison has accepted a new position in Wichita and this was her last production here in Liberal. Her leaving will have a definite impact on our theatre community. I was completely honored to share the stage with her on her final performance. We wish her the best.
This musical was the most “mature” production Rainbow Players had ever preformed. It has language and situations that was never meant for younger crowds. It was defiantly PG-13. Still there is a reason why “CHICAGO” is one of the longest running musicals in Broadway history. It is exciting, fun, captivating and has some of the greatest musical and dance numbers of all time.
With Gloria leading the way, and David bringing in an amazing orchestra, we knew our team could pull it off. There was a little worry how such a mature show would be received by the community. I was so excited to see we had such large audience numbers. Many patrons returned for all three performances. Some traveled hundreds of miles just to see the show. Our attendance was one of the highest we had in the past decade. People are still buzzing about the show, and it is one they will remember for a long time.
“CHICAGO” was beyond amazing. This was by far one of the best teams of cast and crew that I had ever witnessed. It meant the world to me to be a part of it. We overcame so much; time constraints, illness, injury, and we even had two of our leads in the ER on the same day. Still the show went off without a hitch.
We couldn’t have done it without our Producing Sponsor, United Wireless, who stepped up and let this production become a reality. A huge thank you to them and all the business that sponsored and donated to us.
2014 will be Rainbow Players’ 30th season. I am excited to see what is next to come. If anyone is interested in being a part of the 30th celebration, check out the website, www.RainbowPlayers.com, for updates and information on how people can get involved.
Finally, thank you to the community of Liberal and the surrounding area. You helped make this an experience I will not soon forget. Although, I will probably be crawling back up to the booth from here on out, the audience, as well our amazing cast and crew, made this a memory that I will cherish for many years to come.