Heidi McCurdy: Properties
Tell me a bit about what you do at CLT. What does managing props entail?
I am currently a Property Co-Master with my daughter, Riley. Managing the props at CLT means that we are the people who maintain the various prop rooms at the theater. We may not be mastering props for each production at the theater, however, we are the people to come to when a props person is looking for specific items. We also manage prop rentals to other theaters, school districts, and community organizations.
What first got you interested in theatrical props?
My daughter has been involved in theater since she was very small. I initially volunteered to help out with those productions she was a part of with whatever tasks were needed. Eventually directors and producers began to ask me to run props for their shows, which led to my current position as property co-master for the Community Little Theatre production board.
How did you come to be at Community Little Theatre?
I have had season tickets forever, well, for over twenty years. But I really began to get involved once my daughter became a part of the CLT family.
Where are you when you aren’t at CLT?
I am currently the librarian at Edward Little High School. When I'm not there, I like to visit my daughter in college and spend time with my girlfriends and my husband. During the summer, I like to hang out with my family, spend time on the golf course, and relax at my family's camp.
I hear that you’ve been in the process of cataloging CLT’s prop inventory for quite some time. Can you tell me a little about that process?
Yes! And it has been for quite some time. My initial idea was to have a digital inventory of all props. This will include photos of all items as well as a description of each. I envision a link to the inventory on the CLT webpage. Organizations who would like to rent/borrow props from the theater will be able to not only have an inventory of everything available, but also have a photo and description of all items. For prop masters, it is really important to not only see items, but also have descriptions containing size and other attributes. Directors are most often looking for specific props to fit their show, so having all of this information available makes it much easier for the prop masters to pick and choose items for a particular production. For the last two years, CLT has teamed up with Edward Little for the high school's annual Community Service Day. Approximately fifteen students from the high school spend the school day volunteering in the prop room at CLT. This has helped the work of the digital inventory immensely.
You must have come across some strange and intriguing pieces in your time at the theater. What are some of your favorites?
These all seem to be about birds - three in particular. My daughter and I once made a papermaché turkey for the first production we worked on as prop masters, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. It was also the first time we used papermaché for anything. It came out great and was used it in multiple shows after that until it mysteriously disappeared! With help from set decor, we also made a hen who laid a golden egg for Into the Woods. Both the hen and egg were giant sized. The hen was made from a huge yoga ball. Most of my budget for that show went towards covering the hen with feathers! The third was another bird we created for Wednesday in Addams Family. The audience laughed every night when she walked onto the stage with the bird she had just killed for dinner!
What are some prop items that the theater is in need of? Conversely, what are some that the theater has in abundance?
I'm not sure that the theater is in need of any specific props. Every show is so different, which requires props to change for each show. We may need period vintage pieces for one show, and all modern items for the next, so it's pretty hard to predict. Having said this, we do take donations and as long as we have the room, we are grateful to the community for helping us with the props inventory. What do we have in abundance? Drinking glasses! Too many glasses! It seems to me that after every production or even each time I enter the prop room for that matter, more drinking glasses appear. It's like they multiply overnight!
Which shows that CLT has produced have required the most interesting assortment of props?
Addams Family had some interesting props due to the unique nature of the family as well as all the ancestor scenes. From Wednesday's bow and arrow to the individual props needed for each ancestor (each ancestor required individual period props, plus all props required a coat of white paint), this show was very detailed in the props department. It has also been one of my favorite shows to run props for and to be a part of.
What are some of the challenges involved in your duties at the theater?
The prop rooms at CLT need time. I think most departments at CLT would say the same about their spaces. There are multiple rooms at CLT full to the brim with props. Managing the variety of items can be extremely time-consuming. Also, with so many shows and with so many different people working props for each show, it is sometimes difficult to keep the rooms organized. You have to be okay with a little disorganization from time to time, knowing that eventually the rooms will become orderly once again.
Why do you think it is important to have theater in our communities?
I can't imagine not having theater in our community. I look at what it has done for my daughter and all the students at the high school who have been involved in theater, and I truly believe that the arts can make one of the most positive impacts in a person's life. It's a form of expression, a way to learn new skills, and an opportunity to work with some of the most dedicated and passionate people in our community. It's also a lifelong activity. The sense of community between CLT and other local theaters, high schools, and organizations is proof that it is both important and essential to continue to support the arts at every level.
CLT is proud to announce the cast of their next production, Gypsy, taking the stage this April. Written in 1959 by Arthur Laurents and music by Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim, Gypsy tells the story of famous striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee. The story is told from the perspective of Gypsy’s mother, Mama Rose, who is a hard pushing show business mom. Rose is determined to make a star of her talented daughter, June. But when June finally has had enough of her mother’s constant pushing and decides to leave, Rose switches her focus to her other daughter Louise. Louise is then brought to a burlesque house and “learns the business.” She is launched on her career of success – but what happens to Rose in the process?
The pivotal role of Mama Rose will be undertaken by Jennine Cannizzo of Portland. Audiences will remember Jennine as the Matron “Mama” Morton in CLT’s recent production of Chicago. Her bombastic voice is a necessity in the role of Rose; a role which has been called the female King Lear, with singing! Ethel Merman once made her reputation in this role, featuring both songs “Everything’s Coming up Roses” and “Rose’s Turn.” In the role of Louise is Joanna Clarke, also of Portland, who goes from being a wallflower to arguably the best known stripper in history. June, Louise’s “more talented” sister, will be played by Mackenzie Richard. Both Louise and June also have younger incarnations within the show, being played by Maria Groover and Zoe Dinnerstein, respectively. CLT favorite Michael Litchfield will portray Herbie, Rose’s hapless love interest and the much put upon manager for the girls.
There are a number of wonderful cameo roles in this production. In the show stopping “You Gotta Get a Gimmick” three strippers (Mazeppa, Electra, and Tessie Tura) educate Louise in “the business.” Mazeppa, the horn player, will be portrayed by Nicole Chase, Eileen Messina will “light up the stage” as Electra and Renee Mahon Davis will dance “the ballerina” Tessie Tura. “All I Need Now Is the Girl” is another show stopping number, which will be undertaken by Chris Hodgkin in the role of Tulsa.
The rest of the cast includes Graci Gillen, Molly Gouette as News Boys; Zach Gagne, Mason Lagasse and Maxwell Draper as Farm Boys; Louise Groover, Ansley Watson, and McKayla Prophett as Toreadorables and Sophie Messina as Agnes; and Jim McKinley, Roger Philippon, Mitch Thomas, Phil Vampatella, Dan Crawford, Scotty Venable, and Ernie Gagne in character roles throughout the production.
The Director for this production of Gypsy will be Paul G. Caron. Known to CLT fans primarily for his work directing music (just recently for Chicago as well as CLT’s Gypsy in ‘92), Paul “crosses over” every few years to direct. Rebecca Caron, an established CLT Music Director (and Paul’s niece) will be serving as the Music Director. Adam Blais will be responsible for the choreography, bringing the “bump and grind” front and center! Brandon Chaloux will serve as assistant director to the production Completing the Directorial team is Kay Warren serving as Producer. Kay also serves as CLT’s Executive Producer.
It takes an array of people to stage a production of this size. The Stage Manager for Gypsy will be Jackie McDonald. Stephen Brakey will serve as Assistant Stage Manager. Jackie and Stephen will be assembling a team to ensure that set changes happen quickly and fluidly, keeping the audience very much in the moment as the show progresses from location to location. Karen Mayo, CLT’s Executive Director, will be undertaking the task of costuming the cast – which means finding period costumes ranging from suits to stripper outfits. Karen, too, will have a team to assist her in finding, adapting or making over 100 costumes. Sound and lights will be designed by CLT’s popular technical team, Tom Anderson and Richard Martin, respectively.
Producer Kay Warren will be wearing an extra hat – that of undertaking finding and organizing props. She will be assisted in this task by Sue Caron. Local architect and CLT Board Member Bill Hamilton will be designing the many and unique sets, ranging from interior apartments to burlesque theaters. These sets will in turn be decorated by Jessica Henson. Completing the crew, CLT Artistic Director John Blanchette will manage the print publicity and CLT Marketing & PR Chair Danielle Eaton will manage the digital media.
Gypsy will run March 31, April 1, 2, 6, 7, 8 and 9. Show times are 7:30pm with matinees at 2pm.
Order Tickets HERE or call the Box Office at 207-783-0958.
CLT is a local, volunteer driven, non-profit organization.