THE CRAZY TIME WE CALL “LOAD-IN”!
What we refer to as “load-in” is a multi-day event that starts about 10 days before our first preview. All the production elements of the show must be brought to the Eisemann Center and made fully functional. This includes: Set, Soft Goods, Lighting, Sound, Video, Props, Costumes, and Wigs.
The first three elements (Set, Soft Goods, and Lighting) take center stage on the first two days of load-in. Day one is a carefully crafted ballet between these three. First up is Soft Goods which consists of a video screen and masking drapes. They have to be hung from specific positions in the overhead grid, which sometimes requires moving things around on the grid.
Next up is Lighting. The crew works quickly to position all lights that hang above the stage before the noon break. This makes it possible for the set crew to come in starting at 1 pm and not bump heads with the lighting crew. The set should be completed before load-in, including being fully basecoated in black or gray. (Any unpainted surface will cause the lights to bounce and throw color on the actors.)
Meanwhile the lighting crew uses the afternoon to complete their work by positioning the lights that hang above the audience. (The next time you’re at the Eisemann, look above the seating area to gain an appreciation for the catwalk system the lighting crew must use to get to those lights!)
This ballet continues for 4-5 days, adding in Sound and Video. Luckily Props, Costumes, and Wigs have a separate load-in schedule that takes place apart from all of the previous elements. Props consist of hand props, set dressing, and small set pieces (like a table or chair). When possible, the Props Designer will start providing props to the cast soon after the cast is “off book” (meaning they have memorized their lines and no longer need to hold their scripts.) At a minimum, all props need to be ready for the first dress rehearsal, which is generally 3 days before the first preview.
Costumes and Wigs have their own load-in schedule. Sometimes the Costume Designer will bring in a partially completed costume to do a final fitting with an actor. Ultimately the Costume and Wig Designers will bring in all of their work for a “costume parade” for the Director, generally about a week before the first preview. The actors LOVE trying on their costumes and wigs! It completes their character.
The due date for all production elements is the first dress rehearsal (generally 3 days before the first preview). This is the Director’s first chance to see how everything works together to create the show he has envisioned. There may be changes, but they should be minor. After the third and final dress rehearsal, there should be no changes to any of the production elements.
That’s how it works! With a team that consists of our designers, our crew, the Eisemann staff, and a subcontractor crew (ShowMasters), we create Harry Hunsacker’s world in black, white, and shades of gray!