The most difficult thing about putting together this new show was deciding about what type of theatre it would be. There’s the easy type, which is essentially standing behind a microphone and telling historic stories and singing in-between narratives. And there’s the much more complicated type, which is an actual piece of theatre.
Now, there are clear advantages to each. But for the past several years, I’ve gone the easier microphone-singing route. And this time I decided to take the bigger risk and do a theatre piece. So that meant I needed a set, and costumes…and props.
Putting together a show that has a high onstage production value but which can still fit and tour in a suitcase is a challenge. And while I’m writing this, I’m still gathering props from all sorts of different sources. And with this sort of a show, which is about someone who was incredibly famous in the 1940s, but who is almost forgotten today, often it’s cheaper to buy actual historic memorabilia than make a similar item.
It’s also a challenge to find props for a show that will be performed in large, 350-seat venues as well as smaller black box theatres. They need to look reasonable in a small space, and still ‘read’ in a larger theatre. I have been amassing items since December (and honestly, I can’t believe I’m still hunting around months later?!), and here are some of the sources I’ve used:
Value Village – this has been great for things such as tablecloths and vases – I managed to find a pale green tablecloth, and am hoping to go back and find a second one in blue. I found a gorgeous crystal vase, as well as several interesting frames to decorate the stage.
Michael’s – This was a great source for additional frames, as well as flowers for the vase. And they always have coupons, so that’s been handy.
My Mum’s house – For teapots, teacups and saucers (as well as a historic suitcase), this has been a great source. Of course, it also means that I need to be careful not to break anything…
Amazon – After hunting everywhere for a fake engagement ring, I found one this morning on Amazon. It looks like it will work, and arrives in less than a day. There is also a vintage record player that I am considering ordering, even though I have no idea how I’ll tote it around…
eBay – This has been the best source for Deanna Durbin photographs, music and books. I have enough things for a small shrine (or museum display), and even if I don’t use it all, it’s fascinating to have, and will be handy if I ever end up doing a library or museum lecture about her life.
There are still a few props to gather, but things are starting to come together. There is exactly a month until the show opens, but still so much to do…