Jon Roach, left, and Finbarr Saunders trying on hats in the costume shop backstage at the Clarence Brown Theatre. They look rather jaunty, don’t they?
I don’t know about you, but Alan and I decided some time ago to stop buying more “stuff” at the charity auctions we attend. Instead, we only bid on “experiences” that are offered. That way, we don’t have to find a place to keep more items. And we don’t have one more thing to dust!
To that end, we bid on and won an experience during the last play of this past season at UT’s Clarence Brown Theatre. It was dinner for eight with Clarence Brown’s artistic director, Cal MacLean, and his wife, Rebecca, on the Clarence Brown stage as it was set for Bertolt Brecht’sThe Threepenny Opera. It was held on a Monday night when the theater was dark. And, I have to say, it was a fun and unusual little evening.
Joining us were our friends Dawn and Richard Ford, Mintha and Jon Roach, and City Councilman Finbarr Saunders and his wife, Ellen Bebb. (Finbarr is running for reelection — vote for him!)
Little sausage bites in puff pastry started off the evening in the theater lobby.
I have to give a big shout-out to Liz Stowers, the immediate past chair of the theater’s advisory board who every year donates her services to plan and prepare this auction item. She even serves the dinner with her own china, crystal and sterling silver. We were so impressed by everything she did that night.
Following dinner, we got a whirlwind tour of backstage at the Clarence Brown, which is where the fellows got their hands on those hats. Come along.
Ha. We can handle it!
Here’s the set for The Threepenny Opera. You may recognize it as the play featuring the song, “Mack the Knife.”
The setting is a dilapidated theater where a group of actors are planning to produce The Threepenny Opera. It’s a play within a play. Some lucky audience members got to sit at those cocktail tables during the show. Part of the play is set in a nightclub with a bar and bandstand.
The bar looked pretty authentic to me.
Jon and Mintha Roach with Cal MacLean, right.
Alan Carmichael, left, and Richard Ford making themselves at home on the set.
From left, Finbarr Saunders, Ellen Bebb, Rebecca MacLean, Dawn Ford and me.
Cal being the gracious host.
I like this picture of Cal.
Here’s our beautiful table for 10.
First course: smoked salmon on greens picked the day before from Liz Stowers’ brother’s garden. Really good.
The entree was steak with chimichurri sauce, smoked gouda mashed potatoes, tomato stuffed with Vidalia onion and cheese and green beans. It all was delicious.
This simple dessert was the perfect ending. Raspberry sorbet on pound cake.
One of the actors from the play showed up unexpectedly to pick up something, and we were pleased to get to meet her. Melissa David, a graduate MFA student in acting at UT, played Lucy Brown in the show.
Relaxing after the repast.
Here’s Mintha with Liz Stowers. What a great and generous donation she makes to the theater through this event. The Clarence Brown Theatre does not have a kitchen. Liz assembled the meal by using a series of crock pots!
Time for the backstage tour.
Cal demonstrated the fly system for placing scenery.
Here’s Jon entering the dressing room area. The women’s dressing room is off to the left from this central area, and the men’s is off to the right.
Interestingly, the men’s dressing room is quite a bit larger than the women’s. “Why?” we asked. Because, Cal said, there are many more male parts in plays than parts for women. This is problematic for the university because the enrollment in the Department of Theatre is about 70 percent female. This fact often influences the plays that are selected each season. (Come on, writer friends. Let’s have some more plays featuring women!)
Next: the prop room.
Dawn found this cute little clown that played an important role in one of the plays last season, “A Shayna Maidel.”
The costume shop was next. Those are sewing machines under those covers.
Lots of patterns are stored there.
Mintha made a new friend. She’s much quieter than Mintha’s other friends.
There sure are a lot of men’s clothes in there!
I thought this hat was perfect on Richard, who is a huge John Wayne fan.
We recommend you grab this auction item next time you see it offered. It’s so much better than more “stuff.”