Shea's, Buffalo...It's been a long time.
I remember the first time I ever loaded out of this place, and took the time to look out into the house. I was running a victory lap around the stage (some people call it the "idiot check"). The truck was sealed and I came back for one more look, to see if we'd left anything.
The gig was Donny and Marie Osmond. We had the new CAE Leprecon dimmers in their stained Russian birch racks, all 96k of them. Two trusses; one up, one down. A tiny system, really. But we worked it often and kept it clean. It was Andy and I at first, then my brother Bryan and I. Those old Brighton trusses made up the first system which I flew on motors on a regular basis. I began to learn to rig, with that rig.
We had it packed into the 22 ft. bobtail which was our regular ride. I entered the building again, and crossed the stage from right, where the load-in door was, to left, where the beach had been. Arriving offstage left, I checked the area around the house dimmer board (one of the old resistance plate type) and power disconnects. There was nothing of ours laying around.
I began to cross, right, over the smooth black stage floor, which had just been freshly mopped. The fire curtain to the house was still open, and house lights were still dimmed up.
The theater was wonderfully empty.
A good proscenium house is best taken empty, to fully taste its character. Neatly swept and ready for an in, a theater in it's nicest dress reveals all of the charms which can be difficult to enjoy in the excitement of a show day. The accoustic quirks and treats of a particular house lead to examinations of architecture from new perspectives. Sightline angles make for 3 dimensional games of hide and seek; long, skipping chases up and down the staircases to and of the balcony. The asethetic embellishments of the house decor invite slow, lingering muses over chandeliers of endless variety...all manner of heraldic beast and cherub...richly colored fabric of drapes, seats, and wall coverings...or tons of gilded plaster. The technical and aesthetic composition of house lighting before and after a show is fascinating, as design.
I happened to catch the Shea's Buffalo as they were tucking it into bed.
The house ceiling is about 85 feet high. The flat area of the ceiling measures, perhaps, 130'x 100'. It is done in a rococo swirl of plaster coves. Peeking through the ceiling are forty or so incandescent fixtures mounting PAR (parabolic aluminized reflector) 56's. One size smaller than the 64's in our trusses, they are about 7 inches in diameter, and shaped like automobile headlights.
Imagine 40 of these things poking through those far away clouds and angels of plaster...broad, sheer cones of warm white light falling through a fine hang of theater dust. The seats bounced a dark red rose suggestion of their ruby glory. The gilded features of the house; brass rails and fittings on doors, the chandeliers and wall sconces...all were obscured starpoints in the gathered black of the dimmed theater. Not quite in full black, the house reminded me of a Christmas tree whose lights had been switched off overnight. It could be seen for what it was, but it was not at all in full effect. The morning would see it restored to all its beauty, set for the evening's celebration.
I took the scene for a moment.
Satisfied with a clean getaway, I crossed right, toward the door.
Behind me, the hardworking elves of the house crew were busy in the restoration. The sounds of their footsteps and broom sweeps, was the secret whisper of the corking of magic in the night.
Many of those same elves were present tonight: I.A.T.S.E., Local #10.
October 9, 1992
Buffalo, New York
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