KNOXVILLE – Putting on a musical at a professional theater on a college campus takes many months of hard work and dedication from students, faculty, staff and professional actors.
The Clarence Brown Theatre (CBT), located next to the Humanities Building and Hess Hall on the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, campus, is finishing up its 2010 season with the hit musical “Man of La Mancha.” The show opens on April 16 with a performance at 7:30 p.m. followed by a reception featuring Spanish-style cuisine for patrons, actors and technical staff.
With 50 costumes, a cast of 34 professional, undergraduate and graduate actors, and a 16-piece orchestra, intense preparation is vital before the curtain goes up.
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“It’s a collaborative effort,” director Paul Barnes said. “This is probably the largest production I’ve directed at the Clarence Brown, but this is a very professional organization from top to bottom.”
This is Barnes’ fifth production for CBT. While preparing for the show, a lot of time went toward researching the Spanish Inquisition, which is the backdrop for the five-time Tony Award-winning play.
Cristin Downs, a contract employee stage managing the show, is in charge of coordinating all of the technical aspects. CBT is a rarity because it is a professional theater on a university campus. This allows professionals working in theater to work side by side with students and faculty.
“I make sure everyone has what they need to do their job,” Downs said. “I’m the communication hub. I go to the shops every week to visit one on one to make sure we’re all on the same page. I’m sort of a psychic and a psychologist at the same time.”
All of the various technical elements, which include scenery, sound, lighting and props, must work together for a cohesive end product. The goal of everyone working with the production is to put on a great show that leaves the audience wanting more.
Ted Kitterman, a freshman theater major playing Juan, says working on this show has changed how he views professional theater, and he hopes patrons will feel the same.
“It’s just a good time,” Kitterman said. “You go to the movies and see famous people on TV, but you don’t get that sense of real life happening right before your eyes. It’s just a beautiful story that gets told like nothing else I’ve ever seen.”
The featured video details more behind-the-scenes work on of “Man of La Mancha.” Tickets for the show and 2010-11 season tickets are on sale now in the CBT Box Office. For more information, call the box office at 974-5161 or visit www.clarencebrowntheatre.com.
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