Today's post is from Director of Program and Production at Wolf Trap, Peter Zimmerman and Program and Production Assistant at Wolf Trap, Liz Uyeda
After months of anticipation, Dolly Parton has finally arrived at Wolf Trap to perform. Her date was one of the first of our summer performances to sell out, so we know the Wolf Trappers are excited. When we pull in at 7:00am there are 5 trucks and 3 buses waiting for us in the parking lot. It’s a big crew for just one leading lady and we’re still expecting 3 additional buses. When the clock strikes 8 the crew jumps into action and gear starts rolling in. As the sun pours in through the loading dock I check the forecast; looks like it’s going to be a beautiful day.
Today for breakfast we have Belgian waffles, sausage and cheddar strata, bacon, and home fries from our wonderful caterer, Purple Onion. After driving all night from Connecticut the crew is happy to indulge in a warm breakfast, coffee, and more coffee.
After being fed and caffeinated the crew sets to work on building an elaborate lighting rig with LED video walls. Hundreds of pieces rolled off the trucks this morning but in only a few hours the crew has things up and ready for checking. This is a very unique stage plot for a number of reasons.
- Firstly, the stage has been fully carpeted. Some artists like to do this as a means of consistency. It’s their floor and they can mark it how they like, and then at the end of the night they roll it up and take it with them to their next stop.
- There are seven spotlight operators, three of which are sitting in the light truss above the stage (if you look carefully you can see the rickety ladders they use to climb up to those terrifying heights.
- All of the lights you see are intelligent lighting which means that they are computer programmed to move at their given cues.
- The stage set up took over 50 people to put together (29 stagehands and 22 road crew.
When the performance goes up the crowd goes wild. It’s during the first few minutes of the show that the last of our food orders go out. Tonight it’s a three pager from Silver Diner (meals for the hungry band and crew).
After two and a half hours of rocking the show comes down and Ms. Parton makes her quick getaway. The getaway is a move that a handful of artists do to avoid the post-show traffic. They walk directly offstage, board their bus, and drive out of the park via police escort. I’m glad that Ms. Parton was able to make it out without delays but I have to admit, I was sad to see her go.
At 11:40 pm we are working into our 16th hour. Three of the 6 bus drivers have already returned and load-out is underway. We are very grateful to have had such an enjoyable day both onstage and off. I got a chance to see the patrons grooving on the packed lawn so I know I am not alone in that sentiment. Big thanks to all of today’s players. And to Ms. Dolly Parton, band, and crew, we hope you come back soon.