As the curtain fell on the last production of the TCU Theatre fall season, the actors, actresses, sound and set technicians, and costume designers breathed a sigh of relief knowing that for another semester they had put on three successful shows for the TCU community.TCU Theatre, now in its 61st season, is not your average collegiate theater department.
The amount of work put into each show is evident through the acting, costumes and set design.
It takes around five to six weeks to build each of the sets, sew the costumes and rehearse for opening night.
This level of dedication is unfortunately not witnessed by the majority of the TCU campus.
Although TCU students fill the majority of the seats, Student Box Office Manager Becca Nordeen said many of them attend because they are required to by a class.
Survey of Theatre Arts requires students to attend two of the three shows during the semester. Theatre arts majors and minors often attend performances.
Nordeen said for “Proof,” the first show of the season, 80 percent to 90 percent of all tickets went to TCU students, with roughly 10 percent of that total going to students not affiliated with either the survey class or the theatre curriculum. The other tickets went to the families of the actors and the general public.
There is an option, however, for the public to increase their chances of getting into a performance. A group called “First Nighters” meets on the night of the first show, and has dinner with the director. They then proceed to the theatre to watch the performance.
Although many of its members have donated to the department, it does not exclude any potential members.
The box office normally opens two weeks prior to the last show, and the performances are usually sold out by the end of the first week.
For “You Can’t Take It With You,” the theatre department’s first production in the newly renovated Buschman Theatre, all six performances were sold out by the end of the second day.
“It sold out astronomically fast,” Nordeen said.
There was such a demand to see this play that a new performance was added and the dress rehearsal was open to the public.
Even with the additional performances, it’s still difficult to get into the show.
There are several reasons for this:
One is scheduling. Because Ed Landreth Hall Auditorium, Hayes Theatre and Buschman Theatre all share the same backstage area, care has to be taken to not schedule anything for the other two venues during a performance.
The music and theatre departments have made concessions for each other in the past.
Another reason is the seating capacity of each theatre. The Hayes Theatre can seat up to 250 people, while Buschman Theatre can only hold 127 people. For studio performances, the maximum capacity is 75.
Nordeen said students have been turned away, even those in a class.
Forty-five minutes before each performance a wait list is started for those who do not have tickets. Most of the time, they are able to get everyone on the wait list in because some people who have tickets decide not to show up.
No matter how you get in to see these productions, rest assured that you will be seeing a quality performance. Theatre TCU conducts its shows on such a professional level that for the cast and crew, it can feel like it consumes their lives during the production. However, most will not complain about the amount of time spent preparing. The members of the cast and crew enjoy what they are doing.
The actors, actresses, set designers and costume designers are often focused on producing a quality play.
“Their dedication, talent and energy are at a very professional level,” Nordeen said.
Due to scheduling with the music department, among other things, it is unlikely that the theatre department will be able to add additional performances for each of its shows.
Therefore, anyone who wants to see a performance needs to pay attention to the upcoming schedule of performances and call the box office early for tickets. If that doesn’t work, there is always the option of showing up 45 minutes prior to curtain and being put on the wait list.
Everyone should make the effort, at least once, to see a theatre performance. The experience will often be one to remember.
Michael Bishop is a junior news-editorial journalism major from Providence, N.C.