Saturday, December 2nd looked to be shaping up as a good closing night for GRACE. As the Production Manager on the show my work was mostly done and my focus that evening was on preparing for the closing night party.
With the beer and wine purchased I was now ready to go with my girlfriend and have dinner with her father and his friends before the show. It was exciting that they were going to see our work for the first time...I always like for family and/or friends to have an understanding of what it is we spend so much of our time working on...our art.
As we were heading out the door of our apartment to head for El Portal...I got a call from Kappy Kilburn at the Pasadena Playhouse...her message said that the power was out at the theatre and the surrounding area...they had to cancel the 5pm performance of Sister Act, but that the city thought they could have the power back up in about 2 hours. The time was 5:15pm when I got the message...if it really took 2 hours we'd be cutting it close, but being the optimist that I am I was sure we'd make our 8pm curtain.
I apologized to my girlfriend about having to miss our impending dinner, but I had to get to the theatre. I called Sudro, our Stage Manager, and apprised him of the situation. My next calls were to the actors, 2 of whom were on their way back from a seminar in Santa Monica. We decided that they would be able to get ready with flashlights and if necessary they could use my apartment up the street...we were proceeding as if we were still going to make our 8pm curtain...the optimism was spreading.
The power was out for a couple of blocks south of Colorado and on both sides east and west of the Playhouse, so it was very dark in the courtyard. I met with various theatre staff trying to glean any new information about the power outage, but there was none to be had.
By 7pm the actors were at the theatre putting makeup on and setting props and costumes with flashlights. The courtyard was lit by a few candles and lanterns...just enough light for the patrons to start coming by with questions. We assured them that we were proceeding as if the lights would be back on...it was, after all, night.
As tempting as it was to say we'd do a "candle-light reading" of GRACE if the lights didn't come back on, we knew that wasn't an option...it had to be all or nothing. Besides, it is completely against fire code to usher 60 people into a pitch black theatre. It was getting closer to 8pm and we had to decide when we'd cancel the show if the power did not return, and after hearing from a gentleman who said he had just spoken to "some guys in a manhole" it seemed likely that it wouldn't. At this point our closing night audience was anxiously awaiting word while waiting in the dark courtyard or the candle-lit restaurant below our theatre.
After talking with Joseph from the Playhouse staff about ticket refunds, Damaso, Shawn and I decided to let the audience decide between leaving now or waiting another 30 minutes...if the power wasn't back by 8:30pm...half an hour after our original go time...it would be official.
We ran the plan by the cast and SM team. With their acquiescence, I made the announcement from the Playhouse patio balcony...the audience would stay...optimism reigned...we passed out free wine and beer to pass the next 30 minutes.
The minutes between 8:00pm and 8:30pm didn't take long to pass...the optimism dwindled as the City of Pasadena's prediction of a 2 hour power outage proved horribly innacurate. Our patrons sipped wine and beer in the dark, chatting and waiting for us to make one more announcement.
At 8:30pm...I did just that...making sure to say as Damaso (the director) asked me to...ladies and gentleman...GRACE is now closed.
Closed without closure for our wonderful hard-working cast...Sara, Brad, Eric and Mr. Dana Kelly Jr.
Don't worry...we'll be back next year.