Mr. C Gets A Backstage Pass

The end of October always brings a busy time for me. Halloween being my favorite holiday, I’ve always enjoyed making costumes for myself, my kids when they came along, and now I make them for my grandson.

I also enjoy being involved with Community Theater, and this fall our production is “The Addams Family – A New Musical Comedy.” I’m part of the run crew, which means I am backstage on headset, listening to the Stage Manager call the light and curtain cues, and making sure everything runs smoothly.

This year, my daughter decided to bring her family to the show. I was a little concerned, since the show is PG-13 at best, but most of those references were sure to go over his head, so plans remained unchanged. Still, I wasn’t sure a six-year-old would make it through an hour and a half musical.

My grandson, who I’ll refer to as Mr. C, wanted to be Jack Skellington from the movie “The Nightmare Before Christmas” so I spent the last few weeks painting dozens of thin white stripes on a little boy’s suit his mother found at Goodwill.

We also had a practice session with the makeup, since Jack’s face is a big part of the outfit. Mr. C is a lot like his Nana, in that he likes to use makeup to become different characters. Just a few weeks ago he got his mom to buy a little makeup kit to transform him into Frankenstein’s Monster complete with neck bolts, and I have to admit, he did an impressive job!

His mother of course, is not quite so happy with the clean-up, especially on a school night. Oh well, we make these sacrifices for our love of theater.

The Saturday before Halloween, a friend of mine who runs a local comic book store has an annual costume contest. These are two categories, one for children and one for adults.

Last year he was The Lizard from the Spiderman comics, but was too shy to stand by himself for the contest, so I held his hand. I was dressed as Black Widow at the time, just for fun, but the store staff talked me into entering the adult competition. Long story short, we both won, and went home with some great prizes.

This year he was fine to stand by himself, but as the only kid in the competition, they simply walked up and handed him his prize. Being prepared for the shyness, I had dressed up as Trinity from the movie The Matrix, having been her years before for a costume party I attended with a friend, who went as Morpheus.

Once again I was asked to compete with the adults, and to my surprise I took first place, which made me laugh, since it was so unexpected.  I let Mr. C pick out the three comics books I won, and he went home with an armload of awesome comics to read. Way better than candy!

Later that evening, I had my daughter bring Mr. C to the theater about a half hour before curtain so I could take him backstage and show him how the big dogs do it.

The first thing he got to see was how “Thing” worked. One of the theater volunteers is a whiz at electronics and somehow created a glove that sends electronic signals to a false hand in a box to animate it. Mr. C was very interested and impressed as he was shown how the glove worked, and how the electronics on the glove made the rubber hand in the box come to life. I was too.

Next, we checked out the sets backstage, and I explained what scenes they were for and how they would be rolled out when they were needed. I showed Mr. C the fly rail with all the ropes that control the curtains and other special effects for the show.

We toured the dressing rooms and chatted with a few of the actors, and then I showed Mr. C the make-up room, where all the magic happens. On the other side of the stage, he got to see all the prop tables covered with things the actors would need during the show, and also the projection on the big backdrop, which sets the scene throughout the show, and is animated to boot.

I showed him where I would sit for the show with the headset on, and then we took a sneak peek at the audience from beneath the stairway on the stage. He was very impressed with the lights, as there were some backstage and they are very big indeed and probably look more like something from a spaceship.

Our time was running short, so I scurried Mr. C out the side hallway and back out into the main seating area, which is called ‘the house’ in theater talk. With the show minutes away, the seats were filling up fast. I escorted him to his seat next to his parents, reviewed what we had seen, and bid him goodbye. I’m not sure which one of us enjoyed the tour more.

Unfortunately when I checked on him at intermission, the seats were empty. Checking in with his mom, she explained that I was right, the show was a bit long for Mr. C and they decided to cut things short.

His main complaint? There was too much singing!

Hmm. Well, we did forget to mention that one little thing.


If you’d like to see the show, there are two performances this weekend, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 3 and 4 at 7:30 at the Theater@1800. Tickets available at the door, or at


Published November 2, 2017.

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