They pulled it off magnificently!

On October 15th, from the first monologue to the final moment of resolve at the Forest Roberts Theater on the Northern Michigan University campus,  the players, the crew, and everyone involved in the production, did it.

The sound, the lighting, the color were all masterfully controlled. And as the tech rehearsals got better and better in timing, the actors got more into their roles and played their hearts out.

I was fascinated at how the cast could play their parts so well and be so consistently genuine, night after night during rehearsals.

I was in the theater everyday, and at night watching the different rehearsals. Each time, the cast carried it off. With minor changes, and even some rather big shifts in timing and staging, they stayed alert and rolled with it all.

For my part, I helped to adjust many of the paintings that were projected on a giant screen upstage. I had to rework most of the wide paintings to fit the smaller aspect ratio. That meant adding height, both top and bottom sometimes, to keep the images from distending.

We also added some animation to many of the images. Some of the airship paintings had to be more complete so the tech guys could have more freedom to move them around.

And what’s really cool? They’ve recently recorded the entire show and I’ll be able to share a link so you can see it online, only here at Muddy Colors. Keep watching!

Were there problems? Oh yeah. Timing sound effects with actors hitting their marks sounds simple enough, but like anything else it takes repetitive training, and fully-focused teamwork between all involved to get it just right so the audience isn’t aware of the work that went into it.

And remember: everyone had only started working on the production since the beginning of the semester, six to seven weeks before!

I never tired of watching it all come together each rehearsal. And on Thursday, the night before the premiere, we had a flawless run. The energy was so high that night, everyone went home exhausted, but ready for the Friday night opening.

But I’m not sure any of us worked as hard as the crew, both students and instructors. I’ve never seen creatives work so hard to get the material right— my material! To watch those characters from my story live and breathe and speak was an indescribable experience.

And I think it’s got me re-excited about the potential and beauty of theater. And what’s really cool? They’ve recently recorded the entire show and I’ll be able to share a link to see it online, only here at Muddy Colors. Keep watching!

I really must thank Steven Hughes, Professor of Illustration for putting my novel in front of the theater and dance department at NMU. Thanks, Steve!

To all the cast, you have my admiration and friendship. I hope we get to work together again someday—thank you! Good luck going forward and…break a leg!

And many thanks to the crew: the producer, Bill Digneit —for his visions for the NMU theater; director of theater and dance, Jill Grundstrom —your delight in the show was contagious; Scenic Designer, Lex van Blommestein —whatta blast to work with you, let’s do that again! Lighting Designer, David Pierce —you brought life to every moment, David! Sound Designer, Dan Zini —the sound effects…so good! and loved your (and Barb Rhyneer’s) music! Costume and puppet designer, Em Rossi —whoa, such beautiful visions and work! Property Designer, Alec VanHorn —great props, great guns, A! Production Stage Manager, Clair Kaminski —you kept it all together, Clair…good luck moving into this line of work! Technical Director, Braeden Ingersoll —thanks for your hard work, Braeden!

And finally, like the stalwart captain of an airship, for being so open, so cool, and so creative with Timberline, for the many suggestions, for all the help and support, for the hours of discussion between us, and the dedication to the story…many heartfelt thanks to director Keli Crawford-Truckey. I won’t forget how absolutely fun it was working with you! With respect and trust.

Photos by @fischergenau