Behind the Scenes of Building the 2018 Gala “Places, Please!”

Danielle Bliss
 | Aug 10, 2018

​Rendering by Gala Designer Angela Balogh Calin

South Coast Repertory’s 2018 Gala—(“Places, Please!”, Sept. 15)—serves an important purpose for the theatre and promises to be a most memorable evening.  Read on to learn about the building process of making the 2018 Gala distinct from previous SCR gala events.

Many SCR employees ​across various departments of the theatre started working on the event months in advance. One of the biggest challenges (and opportunities) is making the Gala unique from past gala events.

“Places, Please!” is themed around the backstage world—what goes on in the theatre that isn’t visible to the audience. While the gala is guaranteed to be a fun and entertaining event, each guest will leave at the end of the evening having learned something new about the magic that goes on behind the scenes.

“How are we going to create this backstage experience for our guests?” says Holly Ahlborn, associate production manager. “To be fair backstage can be boring. There are dressing rooms with a bunch of clothes and we run around getting everything set. We only have about an hour and then, it's show time. So, how do we make that intriguing? The gala will be a more stylized, glamorous version of what it’s like to be in that process—the magical process of transforming yourself from who you are into what you will become.”

During the cocktail hour, ​partygoers will step into areas designed to represent the different spaces that actors use during the transformation process to become performance ready. It's the chance to see up-close makeup application, wig fitting, getting costumed, and getting props and even body microphones affixed for a musical. SCR technicians will be there to help the actors prepare as if getting ready for a performance.

These backstage spaces are built up about eight inches off the ground, so guests will be able to walk right up and talk to the technician and the performer. Part of what we’re instilling in the performer and technician is that they should engage with guests; there is no fourth wall.

“The actors will start at one station, and then move to the next station,” Ahlborn continues. “There are many different ways to get the most out of this backstage experience. You could follow one actor from each of those platforms and watch them progress into full realization. Or, you can stay at one platform and watch four different ​actors get four completely different styles ​set on them.”

​Ahlborn is excited for how the evening will immerse Gala attendees into the magic of the backstage experience.

Learn more about the 2018 Gala “Places, Please!”