The show goes on at Idaho Shakespeare, despite power outage

If you think “the show must go on” is just something theater artists throw around, you’ve not been to the Idaho Shakespeare Festival.

These seasoned pros have performed in rain and high winds, attacks of micro-bursts, skunks and Mormon crickets. And they tenaciously hold on until it’s simply impossible to perform.

That was tested at Tuesday night’s performance of “King Richard III” when the power went out because of the fire near Lucky Peak.

It was the first time — in my memory we had the potential to cancel a show because of a power outage,” said ISF managing director Mark Hofflund.

When the power went out at 5 p.m. artistic director Charlie Fee and the cast decided to go as far as they could in daylight and hope that the power would come back on.

The crew put mirrors outside for the actors to use for makeup because the dressing rooms were too dark. They also used flashlights to help them dress.

Laura Welsh Berg and Sara M. Bruner put makeup on for the low-tech performance of  "King Richard III" outside the dressing rooms.

Laura Welsh Berg and Sara M. Bruner put makeup on for the low-tech performance of “King Richard III” outside the dressing rooms.

“Ironically, the Greenshow for ‘Richard’ is all pre-recorded, so Tom (Willmorth) had to explain that he’d be talking where he normally wouldn’t and then improv the entire piece. People thought it was part of the Greenshow at first,” Hofflund said.

The cast embraced the situation. Fee made an announcement about “original practices,” a throwback to when theater was simply performed by candle light with live musicians, and that the show would go on.

The audience of about 600 cheered.

“It was a pretty fun night,” said Laura Welsh Berg, who plays Lady Anne. We were exited to do the show — just you and the audience and the words he wrote. Without the sound cues we could actually hear the audience more and I think they heard us in a different way. We would have loved to keep going, but then it became a liability issue.”

It also was the night for the hearing impaired, so two signers were there to translate the play. Someone found camp lights to illuminate the signer’s hands as dusk approached.

Productions stage manager Corrie Purdum called cues the show from backstage on walkie-talkies instead of headsets; the on-set sliding doors were left open because the cue lights that would normally telegraph entrances and exits for the crew and cast were not working; the actors needed to stay close by so they wouldn’t miss an entrance.

“The audience was completely engaged,” Hofflund says.

Fee finally called the production at about 9 p.m.  — before the end of the first act — so Lynn Robert Berg’s Richard was never crowned king.

Anyone in the audience can receive a rain check for another night of “King Richard III” by contacting the box office at 336-9221. “Richard” performances are on Aug. 23, 25, 27. 29-31 at Idaho Shakespeare Festival Amphitheater, 5657 Warm Springs Ave., Boise. Tickets are $30-$41 Fridays-Saturdays, $24-$33 Sundays and Tuesdays-Thursdays, $18 any night, students with valid ID. IdahoShakespeare.org.

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