Monday, March 13, 2006

In her shoes

Saturday night Doug and I were volunteering at the Zachary Scott Theatre, for the opening night of Bad Dates, a play about single life in Manhattan. We arrive an hour before the show to stuff programs, receive our assignments and assist the patrons before the show. C is the house manager tonight, and when it’s time she gathers the volunteers to brief us about the show.

“ will work the bar, Dara and Doug, you need to work the back door, and L, you are on shoe duty.”

Shoe duty? We had no idea what C was talking about. “You didn’t hear about Thursday night?” C asked. We shook our heads no. “We have more than $6,000 worth of shoes on loan from Neiman Marcus Last Call as props. During intermission on Thursday’s preview, we had a patron go onstage and start trying on the shoes. I had to go in there and ask her to stop.” We were all shocked to hear the story, and chalked it up to one crazy woman.

C took us in the theater to see the set. Bad Dates is playing on the Arena stage, which is a theater in the round. The theater sits less than 150 people, and there are only three rows of seats. The stage is ground level. At times you feel like you can reach out and touch the actors. At the very least, you can touch the props near the edge of the stage.

The set for Bad Dates seems more touchable than most. It is supposed to be the bedroom of the character’s Manhattan apartment and looks to be something straight out of a Pottery Barn showroom; and you have to resist the urge to pick up one of the designer pillows or flip through the picture books on the nightstand. In the midst of all this, two dozen shoes are scattered around the set. Although I am one of those rare females without a shoe fetish and only have a minimal number of shoes in my closet, I was in awe of the array of shoes on the set. “Ooh, I could see myself in those boots,” I told Doug as I pointed to a pair of leather boots with a cow skin design. Never mind that the heels are about two inches too high for me to walk on comfortably and they don’t go with any of the clothes in my closet. “Don’t touch!” Doug hisses at me as I start to walk towards them. I resist the temptation, turning around and walking out of the theatre, watching the doors until it’s time to seat the patrons.

During the intermission, L and another woman guard the shoes. All is well. After the show is another story. Because it’s opening night, there is a party in the lobby – champagne, hors d’oeuvres and an open bar. Part of the volunteer responsibilities for opening night is to help set up and work the party. As the other volunteers started handing out champagne, Doug and I slipped into the theatre to clean up the empty wine cups and beer bottles left by the patrons. As I’m picking up the trash on the top row, I look down to the stage where Doug has my boots in his hand. “Doug!” I yell. I had just learned those boots cost $650 as close-out – I didn’t want to think what they were at full retail.

Evidently as the show ended, several patrons went down to the stage and started pick up the shoes. The boots were the third pair Doug had to take out of someone’s hands. In the five years we’ve been volunteering at the Zach, Doug and I thought we’d seen it all – from patrons taking hairbrushes and other props off the Shear Madness set, to a lady knitting on the front row of Santaland Diaries. The Santaland incident was the same performance where one lady left in the middle of the performance, stopping first to chastise Martin Burke for his character saying such mean things about children with handicaps. Is there any wonder why Martin has taken a break from the show? But I digress.

We were stunned by the folks who thought that the theatre was a place for their own personal shopping. I’m all for bringing the theatre to the masses, but when you start trying on the shoes of the character, you have gone a bit too far. If you loved the show, tell your friends. If you loved the shoes, go the Last Call.

Note: Because it was opening night we did not see the show. The theatre was full and we had to set up for the party during the second act. While we cannot comment personally on the show, we did hear good buzz about it during the party. We’ll comment on the show when we go back to watch it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow. An audience full of kleptomaniacs! Maybe there should be a statement prominently printed in the program that says, PLEASE DON'T TOUCH ITEMS ON THE SET! GUARD DOUG ON DUTY!

Auntie M.