Ceiling collapse nearly derails upcoming play

TheatreMcLean nearly forced to relocate after structural concerns

Parts of the set were constructed directly in the Black Box. If the show was moved to the auditorium the whole set would have to be moved to the stage along with it.

On Jan. 13, the Black Box, where TheatreMcLean was planning on putting on their next musical, Claudio Quest, was deemed unsafe to work in. Caution tape covered the doors and the room was blocked off as a result of part of the Black Box ceiling collapsing. Luckily no one was harmed and a few days later the room was declared as safe to work in.

“The scary thing was that they had to basically shut down the Black Box,” theater director Phillip Reid said. “There was definitely a discussion of, ‘What do we do? Do we move everything?’ If we had to move [our whole production] onto the stage, it would have been crazy.”

Although the cause of the collapse is unknown, there is speculation that it was likely due to water leakage in the building. Since the leakage didn’t extend farther than the part of the ceiling that fell, the room was considered safe.

“Mr. Reid said there was a possibility of the entire ceiling falling down,” senior Wyatt Lahr said. “We definitely can’t have that, so [hearing] that made me nervous.”

Part of Claudio Quest’s appeal was that it would be the first musical TheatreMcLean put on in the Black Box. The intimate space was perfect for Reid’s vision of the show. Not to mention, the whole set, props, acting, etc. had all been catered to fit the room’s parameters. While Reid and those involved in the show anticipated a decision about where they would be performing, they began planning for the worst, moving the entire show to the auditorium.

“The hardest thing was trying to map out how it [would] look [on the auditorium stage] because the whole idea of the show is to be [in the Black Box],” Reid said. “So when you move into another location, everything that you were thinking about doing completely changes.”

Wanting to continue with his vision of the audience being up close to the stage, Reid was prepared to alter the show so that audience members themselves would be sitting up on the stage. However, he was not looking forward to it.

“My third year here we did Lord of the Flies, and we performed [and had the audience] up on stage. Luckily that was one thing that helped me feel okay about the whole process because at least I had done it before,” Reid said. “But when I did that show, I told myself I would never ever do a show again on stage because it was so hard.”

With Claudio Quest’s opening night just around the corner on Feb. 10, the shut down of the room would have put a big wrench in TheatreMcLean’s plans. The cast and the crew currently have rehearsal five times a week, with rehearsals closer to opening night becoming increasingly important.

“It was four days of intense emotional rollercoastering,” Reid said. “[When] you lose a week working on a show of this magnitude, it [takes] much more than a week [from us] … so we’re having to work a little more overtime to get it done.”

Although Claudio Quest encountered a bump in the road, the musical will still show on the dates that were originally planned. The whole team is working relentlessly to put on the best performance they can.

“We had a one week hiccup, a speed bump where we couldn’t do anything. And that was what it was,” Reid said. “But it’s still going on Feb. 10th through 12th. It’s our Cappies show so there’s a lot that we’re working on. Kids are putting in a lot of hours, it’s gonna be a crazy show.”