On to Tech Week

By Holly Mancuso, dramaturg

de Jong Concert Hall

The de Jong Concert Hall at BYU, where The Count of Monte Cristo will be performed

After four months of practicing in a dance studio in the Richards Building, the time has finally come for The Count of Monte Cristo to take the stage in the Harris Fine Arts Center!

Last week the cast and crew moved into the de Jong Concert Hall. Designers and technicians from all aspects of the production, including lights, sound, set and scenic, projections, orchestra and music, and flight operations have been busily preparing the space in order to get everything ready for this .

I had the opportunity to talk with some of the actors about this process of going from practice room to stage.

What’s been the hardest transition [while getting on stage]?

Lizzie Wilkins, a member of the ensemble: I think just making sure that we can get everything on and off stage and making sure we don’t hit anything while we’re dancing!

Because a lot of the set is moved by cast members, right?

Wilkins: Yeah, so we want to make sure we’re not being loud and obnoxious and taking anyone out of the story. It’s crazy, everything is huge, which is good, because it’s a huge stage.

What would you say has been the biggest surprise about moving from the RB [Richards Building] to the de Jong?

James Bounous, playing Jacopo and understudying Edmund Dantes: The stage here is probably about twice as wide as what we were practicing with in the RB…but at the same time, it’s not quite as deep as we’ve been practicing with because of the set. So just kind of adjusting to the dimensions.

The cast on stage, rehearsing with the orchestra during sitzprobe

The cast on stage, rehearsing with the orchestra during sitzprobe

Another interesting part of the technical process is something called “sitzprobe”. Originating from the German word used for “seated rehearsal”, sitzprobe describes a process in opera and musical theatre when, after practicing, the actors initially practice with the orchestra. It is held without other technical aspects or theatrical staging so everyone can become better familiarized with the music. Here is a clip from the sitzprobe for the Broadway production of Aladdin that explains a bit of this process.

The orchestra prepares for the show.

The orchestra prepares for the show

As you can see, it’s a very exciting day! During our sitzprobe, I could see actors dancing and bouncing along with the music as the magic came alive.

After the rehearsal,Tanner Forbes, in the ensemble and understudying Jacopo, said, “It is incredible how much an orchestra adds to the energy of the piece. Instantly all of us started singing louder and more forcefully. We’ve only had the piano throughout rehearsal, so seeing the full picture of the orchestra and hearing that is an incredible experience.”

The Count of Monte Cristo opens next week!

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