Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra: making great music personal

shop talk

close shaves

June 05, 2012

Every industry has its tales of close shaves and as we begin preparation on the first of LACO’s two 2012-13 program books, I am reminded of two that I experienced.

Program books always take longer than one would hope and invariably there is a rush at the end. (I can see the nods of agreement and understanding from everyone who has ever put together a program!) But on one occasion, receiving the program book in time for the first concert was really touch and go. I found myself sitting at the printer’s office on a holiday Monday to proof the blueline. As each sheet became available, it was handed to me. As soon as I finished proofing, the printing crew –- trying not to appear to anxious — would whisk it off to press. Kudos to customer service representative Marx Ortega for his calm and reassuring demeanor and to the team at Marina Graphic Center for pulling off a near miracle. The program books were delivered with an afternoon to spare and no one ever knew they were literally hot off the press!

Earlier in my career, I witnessed another close shave where there was no such luxury. A performing arts organization in South Africa restored an old atmospheric movie palace into a venue for opera, musicals and concerts. The inevitable construction delays forced postponement of the Grand Opening to April but it was decided to go ahead with the planned holiday production, Pirates of Penzance, as rights had been secured and a great cast was in place. Billing it as a “hard hat” event that would give the public an exciting glimpse into the theatre- in-progress, construction continued at a feverish pace to prepare the Orchestra level for the audience while the Balcony level was closed off to be finished after the December run was over. Even so, not all was quite in place when the audience arrived for the first performance. The bar – an important source of income for the venue – had not been completed! The immediate problem was solved by welcoming the patrons with passed champagne but, as soon as the curtain went up on the first act, the waiting carpenters sprang into action and by intermission the bar was open for business. As they say, there is no business like show business.

I’d love to hear what near misses of the theatrical kind you have experienced. So, consider this an open invitation to tell all.

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