Outdoor music production faced weather challenges

  • The Gilbert and Sullivan operetta is presented by the Four Corners Musical Theater Company.
  • Tickets are $18 for adults, $14 for students, seniors, and military.
  • Visit fmtn.org or call 505-599-1148.

FARMINGTON — Randy West has spent much of his career producing outdoor summer musicals, so he knows as well as anyone the kind of havoc the weather can take on rehearsal and performance schedules.

But for some of the cast members of its latest production, the Four Corners Musical Theater Company presentation of “The Pirates of Penzance” which opens this week, it’s a new experience.

“I keep telling actors, ‘When you do outdoor theater, God gets a vote,'” West said, explaining how a series of monsoon storms over the past two weeks have disrupted preparations. from the opening of the room. “It was complicated.”

Most of the seasonal summer rainstorms that have swept through San Juan County on a regular basis since late June weren’t timed to wipe out rehearsals featuring actors, but they kept West and his technical crew from getting to work. on the schedule. considerable technical aspects of the show – lighting, sound, etc.

West said these technical elements are so advanced that it takes an hour every night to run through a series of checks and make sure everything is working as it should. These elements include a sound system for a group of seven musicians and 28 microphones for the actors.

“It’s just a lot,” he said. “I’m totally confident we’ll get there, but we won’t get there with anything to spare. We’ll literally have used every moment that God has allowed us to repeat over the past two and a half weeks.”

Gilbert and Sullivan’s signature piece is so elaborate that West said it’s more accurately described as an operetta than a musical, with over two hours of sung material, not to mention dialogue. And the Four Corners Musical Theater Company production doesn’t skimp on production values, with a sword fight scene that essentially involves the entire cast with real swords and clubs.

“It’s a wonderful moment in the show, I’m glad we fought to preserve it,” he said.

The sets are a treat in themselves, West promised, noting that the Mediterranean-style tavern that is part of the permanent installation at the Lions Wilderness Park Amphitheater has been transformed into a castle for the show. There is also a beach, a wharf, a cemetery and a hub.

The production of the Four Corners Musical Theater Company "The Penzance Pirates" opens this weekend and continues throughout July at the Lions Wilderness Park Amphitheater in Farmington.

But the real highlight, West said, is a large-scale, brightly painted pirate ship with a mast that lead actor Matt Aaron will climb during a climactic scene, as well as two cannons that will fire at different points in the show. .

All of these elements will combine for a visually and artistically stunning show, West said.

“It makes it really visually appealing,” he said. “There’s so much going on.”

It’s been difficult to deal with some of these elements due to recent weather disruptions, but West would rather these rains happen now rather than during the run of the show itself. He said last year’s outdoor production, “Mama Mia!”, had rained three times in its three weeks, so he was pleased to note that forecasts call for drier weather for the rest of the season. this month.

A full-scale pirate ship, complete with two cannons, is one of the highlights of the Four Corners Musical Theater Company production "The Penzance Pirates."

West acknowledged that parts of the show could have been cut back after the weather delayed rehearsals. But the important amphitheater setting offers West and his cast the chance to do something large-scale once a year, so scrapping some of those ideas wasn’t really an option, he said. , especially for a show that involves so much physics. and slapstick humor like this.

“We’re doing this show for an entire month, so it’s really important for us to get it right,” he said. “I think for anyone who already has a warm, fuzzy place for the Sandstone Theatre, this show will only reinforce that feeling.”

“The Pirates of Penzance” premieres at 8 p.m. Thursday, July 7 through Sunday, July 10 at Lions Wilderness Park Amphitheater, 5800 College Blvd. in Farmington. The show continues throughout the month of July. Tickets are $18 for adults, $14 for students, seniors, and military. Visit fmtn.org or call 505-599-1148.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or [email protected] Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/2I6TU0e.