It’s a good thing Proctors’ stage is so much bigger now.
The biggest prop in “Les Misérables” stretches across the entire stage, from end to end, and all the way up the lights — and that’s not the only impressively huge prop in the show.
After 11 hours of hard labor Monday and Tuesday, 80 stagehands had hauled in most of the set pieces and hung the imposing tower doors that open and shut in computer-controlled grooves. Those are so tall that men standing on ladders to adjust the lights were at eye-level with the top of the towers.
By midday Tuesday, they had emptied seven of the nine tractor-trailers they move from stage to stage, and still the biggest pieces were yet to come.
The barricades would be the last to be hauled out and set up.
“They are our largest piece,” said Production Stage Manager Trinity Wheeler. “That has been the most impressive element. It fills the stage.”
'Les Misérables' a feast for the eyes and ears
Actors actually climb on the barricades, crawl through them and sing while standing yards above the stage.
On the other side of the scale, the stagehands also carried in two small coffee cans — an essential musical instrument for one song in the show.
Drummer Eric Borghi has 18 drumheads, but none of them were good enough for the musicians who wrote the score: They wanted coffee cans.
Borghi said he had only one thought when he was told what he’d have to play: “I hope it sounds good.”
He hastened to add that he plays about four notes on each can. The rest of the performance uses his more traditional percussion.
The cans are played during “Master of the House,” a ribald song about the less-than-meticulous owner of a tavern.
Borghi likes the cans now. And, he added, nothing can beat his position: “It’s a very cool job.”
new version of show
This production of “Les Mis” is a new adaptation of the show and does not use the turntable that was the hallmark of the last version. Wheeler said the team had to give up the turntable when they decided to redesign the show.
“The moment we were doing it on the turntable, we were doing that show,” he said.
The new version has become a financial success — so much so that Wheeler said crew members have heard whispers of a return to Broadway next March.
Wheeler said he doesn’t yet know whether the show will actually return to Broadway. And he wasn’t sure whether he would go to New York City with it. He’s been on the tour for every performance — the 1,000th show was last week — and he doesn’t want to give up the travel.
“I like the touring,” he said. “I’ve played in every theater, multiple times.”
He can remember when Proctors’ stage was so tiny that it could not host many Broadway productions. Now, it’s one of the better theaters.
“We get to spread out a bit. It’s quite nice,” he said.
He’s still surprised by Schenectady’s demand for shows.
“To have a [Broadway] season as big as this is spectacular,” he said. “The sales are really, really good this week.”
The only seats left for the week’s run are limited-view single seats, and even those are filling up.
There is some hope for those who’ve missed out, though: Every day, the touring company will release a few seats for that day’s performance. The company has reserved a number of seats each day for guests but generally won’t need all of those.
Proctors CEO Philip Morris said people should call the box office in the late morning each day if they want to try to buy those tickets.