Elf Diaries: by Ryan Rafuse
Lighting and Sound Apprentice
Tuesday, November 8
Lighting hang day! Lots of lights were hung, a lot of lights. Nothing to really report here, we finished quite quickly, and Andrew Crawford (Head of Lighting) stated many times that he “loves this crew!” Which was a very good compliment! I was stolen away by staging to operate the fly rail. They had to ferry down roughly 30 stage weights (2 and a time) from the loading rail to the mid rail and needed an extra person to operate the line locks. After joining staging I stayed and helped Evan Brown (Head of Staging) with the show drop (the painted snow globe drop) which didn’t have time to dry before being folded and was stuck together while Evan and I unfolded it—it was a very slow and careful unfold…
Friday, November 11
Light focus day! For the first 2 hours I was on the staging crew and helped Evan by moving the genie lift around. The rigging on the blue proscenium flats were too long and needed to be adjusted. Twas a stressful 2 hours since lighting focus was pushed by 2 hours specifically for this, but it was accomplished! Fun times focusing lights, long day focusing light. I mostly moved the genie lift, ran to get gels or diffusion, and also kept watch out while Andrew was focusing lights in the Box Booms. Fun times! Glad I wasn’t in them! Light focus finished 15 minutes past the scheduled time and considering we started 2 hours late; we made excellent time.
Saturday, November 12
Band Prep! Sound land was chill, the band showed up and was shown to the pit. Exciting! Musical Director Sarah Richardson is amazing and wonderful to work with! The band consists of 2 keyboards, 1 woodwind player who plays 6 instruments, 1 trumpet player, and 1 drummer, totalling 5. Both keyboards go through Mainstage which converts the sound to different instruments such as strings and bass. The program can also split the keyboard into 2 instruments so one hand plays 1 instrument and the other plays a different instrument. For example, in one song, Sarah’s left hand plays the bass and her right plays grand piano. When the band first played the overture I was standing in the doorway without headphones (everything is mixed through the system and sent back down to the pit and every musician has headphones to dial in a personal mix) so I only heard the drums, woodwind (on either a piccolo or saxophone—he tried it with both) and trumpet, I thought it sounded good and thought the digital pianos would make it sound even better, I was then motioned to put on headphones by Joe Micallef (Head of Audio) and when I put of the headphones it sounded so similar to the original cast recording I was blown away. Mainstage created these beautiful digital strings which sound incredibly close to a real string section—something that can be difficult to fake sometimes!
Thursday, November 17
Tech with cast and band! It sounds so good, nice, and loud! People seem to be a little stressed, but spirits seem good! The flying set pieces have been sorted out and fly nicely and safely. Lighting looks good, projection is good, sound is good.
Friday, November 18
Q2Q Day 1, crazy coming in this morning, people everywhere, set dressings, adding lighting practical’s to set pieces, testing flies and fog and everything else. Q2Q started with the sleigh sequence since it was the most cue heavy and complex section of the show. While testing the sleigh lift and pyro Garrett Barker (Technical Director) is standing by with a fire extinguisher. The lift rises about 5 ft above stage level. Half hour later, pyro hasn’t been tested and Garrett is still holding a fire extinguisher. Lots of waiting around. Pyro is finally tested and went well—looks good, all good, moving on. (Garrett was not around when it was tested but the fire extinguisher was not needed – thankfully) They started from top of show and went through every cue, a very slow process, the transitions take the longest obviously, since this is a full show with many moving set pieces. The transition into Sparkle Jolly took the longest since it basically needed to be restaged.
Saturday, November 19
Q2Q Day 2! We started with Sparkle Jolly, and it went well! The set is still unfinished though and tension is beginning to rise. The transitions take the longest to do mainly because many are being totally restaged. Slow moving day but plugging along. The fog in the ice-skating scene seemed to wet the deck and created a slick layer of residue which, combined with the roller skates could be rather dangerous. In “Nobody Cares About Santa” one of the actors took a drink from a flask and stops and says “what was in that” there was some type of grit in the glass that he had drunk. Apparently, the flask is not drink safe. At 10 pm (precisely) musical director Sarah Richardson started to filter through all the built-in piano sounds loaded onto her rehearsal piano, these include, synthesizers, organs, whisps, and a couple other unexplainable sounds. Everyone’s tired but we are past Never Fall in Love with an Elf—that’s the halfway point for act 2 right? Probably not but it sure is interesting seeing how a musical is teched out!
Sunday, November 20
Q2Q Day 3! Still plugging along, almost done though! The act 2 transitions seem to be much easier and straight forward. Q2Q ended around 3:30 and in the evening, a tech dress was had. It started strong and then they stopped right after World’s Greatest Dad… no idea why… they resumed with the finale of World’s Greatest Dad but the final lyrics are “and someday I’ll be the world’s greatest SON” but lead actor Ryan Brown just sang “son” but sounded a lot like “stop” which made Sarah Richardson cut the band off very quickly- safety first! The transition into the city was not very smooth so another stop happened—going back for the third time! Another stop happened before the transition into Macy’s… We had to end at 11 after “The Story of Buddy the Elf” but it was picked back up and finished the following Tuesday.
Monday November 21
Notes! I went in at 8am and had to move a speaker in the crossover, as well as do some lighting notes. I put the frost in the lamp, screwed the fog machines down, found black fabric to cover the back of Rockefeller Tree, and took the lights off the Macy’s tree and then redecorated it. So, I was basically on Sound, Lighting and Props that day, right?
Tuesday November 22
First Dress Rehearsal! The dress rehearsal was in the evening, and it went well!! Invited dress that started late, and intermission was longer but oh well, it was still terrific!
Wednesday November 23
Media Call! Hectic! But very interesting, they performed sections from Sparkle Jolly, Nobody Cares About Santa Clause, and In the Way. There were also photo opportunities for other members of the cast which are heavily staged. For the rest of the day, they just worked bits and refined transitions and looks.
To conclude, I loved every minute working on Elf, it was so wonderful to see how a musical like this is put together and teched in such a short time frame. I’m sure many people would get tired of hearing this music over and over again, but I truly loved it and it put me in the best holiday spirit! Many thanks to everyone at Neptune and Dal for making this possible!