In 2012 we did “Bordertown Cafe,” about a family-owned restaurant in a small town near the Canada-US border. Act 1 was set in the kitchen, and act 2 was in the dining area.
Someone, I don’t know who, but someone thought it would be a great idea to do it as a revolve. To put two different heavy counters, various other furniture and set pieces, and actual freaking refrigerator on a 20-foot diameter turntable, and make me and my crew push it around at intermission, then push it back to reset. We are not the crew of “Hamilton,” or the original “Les Mis.” This was a lot to ask.
I tried to get some big strong men on the team, but ended up with three other women. Tough women who weren’t afraid of hard work, but still rather lacking in the necessary upper body strength. Luckily, we were able to draft the understudy to the male lead, to give us hand.
Still, it was really heavy, and really hard to move. It was also super-depressing to have to move it right back an hour later. The worst part was, at intermission I had to yell ONE-TWO-THREE GO to get us all pushing at the same time, then at one point yell STOP so we could re-position, then ONE-TWO-THREE GO again. With no grand curtain, so the audience members in the house could stand there and watch. This is exactly what you don’t want as a crew member — people paying attention to you. One of the major points I tried to make in the novel.
Most nights, they even applauded, which was very sweet but also humiliating.
The set did look cool, though. With the big pass-through window upstage, it really felt like two different sides of the same cafe. It was just another example of some people not fully thinking about the crew.