Jul 30, 2021
Kerry Cripe, Technical Director
Angela Turner, Stage Manager
One of my favorite episodes to produce every season is the “Behind-the-Scenes” episode with folks on the production side of the magic that is Central City Opera. This year, Technical Director Kerry Cripe and Stage Manager (Rigoletto) Angela Turner joined me over Zoom to talk about this extraordinary summer.
Kerry is also the Senior Technical Director for Yale Undergraduate Production at Yale College, overseeing hundreds of performances at Yale venues each year. Here’s the link to his page on yale.edu. He also spent many seasons with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival in Boulder and the Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City. Here are photos of those permanent outdoor venues.
Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Boulder, CO
Utah Shakespeare Festival, Cedar City, UT
We first thought we’d be relocating the 2021 Festival to the Gilpin County Fairgrounds in Black Hawk, Colorado. Here’s a photo of that venue.
Gilpin County Fairgrounds, Black Hawk, CO
But because wildfire is a real threat in drought-prone Colorado, the county ultimately did not approve our permit request so the fairgrounds could be reserved as an emergency evacuation zone for livestock and other large animals in the case of wildfire. So – back to the drawing board.
You all know, of course, that we ended up at The Hudson Gardens and Event Center in Littleton, which is adjacent to the South Platte River, southwest of Denver. The next six photos are from the set-up process in early June 2021, taken by our Director of Production, Karen Federing.
Setting up the tent at Hudson Gardens
Tent is up!
Starting to erect the lighting truss
Truss is completed
Hanging the lighting instruments
Custom-built stage deck, shared by both Carousel and Rigoletto
CCO’s original supertitle system was a DOS-based system, a system which became available to personal computers back to 1981. For those young folks out there reading this who have never seen a hard drive disk, let alone know what DOS is…here’s some reading material. :-)
How much are outdoor-rated flat-screen TVs now? Plan on spending at least $3,000.00 for a TV that can withstand full sun.
Angela and Kerry described the torrential rain that invaded the Denver metro area – and specifically Hudson Gardens – during our tech weeks in late June. Here are three photos by Director of Production Karen Federing that show the conditions. And what IS a monsoon? Click here to find out more about this weather phenomenon from the Colorado Climate Center of Colorado State University.
Set design elements by David Martin Jacques
I learned a lot more about Gilda’s swing than I expected – everything is just a LITTLE more complex in theatre than anyone realizes. Here’s a photo by Amanda Tipton showing the swing in Steven Kemp’s design for Rigoletto.
Photo by Amanda Tipton
Kerry and Angela also talked about how the orchestra area evolved over the rehearsal period. Here’s a photo when there were only three patio umbrellas (we ended up with twelve).
Photo by Karen Federing
Angela and I are both former flute players! You never know how your music degree will translate into a career, and this reminds me of this article from Forbes on ten reasons to let your kid major in music.
Angela mentioned the organization Opera America, a non-profit service organization that promotes the creation, presentation and enjoyment of opera in North America. It has proven to be a huge resource to all of us in the opera industry during the pandemic. Find out more at operaamerica.org.
Finally, Kerry commented on how excited he is about the huge outpouring of creative work that was born during the pandemic. I likened it to the Renaissance after the medieval Black Plague. Here’s an interesting article from The New Yorker published in July 2020, titled “How Pandemics Wreak Havoc and Open Minds.”
It was so great to talk with Kerry Cripe and Angela Turner. Congratulations to them and the entire Festival company and staff of Central City Opera on a memorable, extraordinary summer!
-Emily Murdock, Host & Producer