Friends, believe me, if you were not here for our Friday show (or rather, lack of show), you missed out on a truly surreal and (in retrospect) kind of funny situation. For the senior board members of HRG&SP, it certainly made for an eventful final opening night! Allegra Caldera ’17 recounts the tale.


Written by Allegra Caldera

Last Friday, well-dressed audience members made their way across Radcliffe Yard for the first night of The Sorcerer. The cast chatted and applied makeup downstairs in the dressing rooms, and orchestra members warmed up with exercises and scales. Little did they know what the old (dare I say haunted?) Agassiz Theater had in store… DISASTER. Kind of. Disaster turned inspiration? Disast-piration?

At about 7:25pm, just prior to the opening of the house, the fire curtain was accidentally triggered and made a quicksand-like descent to seal off the stage. Though the curtain is heavy, cumbersome, and a huge pain to re-roll, this didn’t seem like a showstopper at first. We apologized to the audience, and told them the show was starting late. Well after 8pm, when the show was supposed to begin, the re-rolled curtain was finally lifted above the proscenium… and promptly began sinking back down. Apparently the fire curtain’s very old winch had an issue with its brake, and the curtain wasn’t going to stay up no matter what we did.

By this point, however, our resourceful cast and orchestra had begun to make the most of an unfortunate situation. Different members played pieces from their individual repertoire or sang duets for the audience – I heard a rumor that Aaron Slipper even did some stand-up. Downstairs, other board members and I frantically plated cheese, crackers, strawberries, and cookies for an early Not-Quite-Opening Night Reception. Finally, the whole cast dispersed themselves throughout the theater to sing a stirring rendition of the Sorcerer Act I Finale, capping off our very first Impromptu HRG&SP Talent Show. Despite its inauspicious beginnings, maybe we’ll have to make it an annual occurrence!

I’m no HRG&SP Historian, but this may have been the craziest “opening” night in our 61-year history. Alums, patrons, please chime in if you remember a competitor!

One thought on ““Opening”; or, The Fire-Curtain Variety Show

  1. I enjoyed the performance of the Sorcerer on Sunday, April 2. HRG&S did an excellent job. I must however add that HRG&S made an improvident choice in deciding on this operetta. Among the twelve operetta usually performed (excluding Thespis and the grand Duke from the list), the Sorcerer is the least attractive. It has less energy than the others and its satire is the most conventional. I suggest you try the Grand Duke as a change of pace.
    One note on the performance:
    When Lady Sangazure recites:

    MR Wells
    Oh horrible! – She’s going to adore me!
    This last catastrophe is overpowering!
    LADY Sangazure
    Why do you glare at me with visage lowering?
    For pity’s sake recoil not thus from me!

    The word “lowering” rhymes with glowering and is defined as looking angry or sullen, scowling. It had nothing to do with the movement of the head (lower).

    Bill Horne

    Liked by 1 person

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