by Joshua Burrage
What could be better than a summer in sunny California? Sacramento, California to be exact, the home to the Wells Fargo Pavilion, also known as Sacramento Music Circus (Broadway at Music Circus). This year I had the pleasure of performing in three of the six shows they do each summer, and let me tell you, seven weeks was not enough. Something about the environment, the casts, the crews of each show really felt so unique and special. It’s not an experience you have all the time. And with being in the crazy schedule of a two-week rehearsal/tech period into a week run of shows, having these kind, hardworking people all around makes all the difference.
This year’s Music Circus summer show schedule included Singin' in the Rain, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Disney’s Newsies, Gypsy, Mamma Mia!, and Little Shop of Horrors. Each show gets a two-week period that includes music or dance rehearsals, designer runs, dress rehearsals, and tech along the way before the third week, which is the week of full performances. As each show goes into performance mode, the next show of the season begins rehearsals. This is the time where many cast members go into double duty which includes learning a new show during the day, while performing another show at night. While this can sometimes be stressful at times, it also keeps you on your feet and the energy alive. What’s cool about Music Circus in particular, is that many of the cast members cross over into other shows, keeping that “we’re all in this together” excitement.
Another special quality of Music Circus is that it is in the round. This means the circle stage that is in the center of the theatre is surrounded by a sea of seats connected by four main aisles. All entrances and exits are made at each of these aisles, and most costume changes and prop exchanges are done right outside each aisle in the circular lobby. I think a definite challenge for most people was figuring out which entrance or exit to take into scenes, because let me tell you, once the lights came down, the circle became very disorienting. Having each set very different from one another and the orchestra pit always in the same position though was very useful when trying to reorient yourself. As confusing as it could be at times, it did make for some good laughs along the way.
What I think I loved the most about working at Music Circus this summer was the KIND, genuine people. There is nothing more important to me than being surrounded by people who are kind and respectful of one another. Working with creatives, cast members, and crew members who all treated each other with love and appreciation not only makes for a stellar show, but a beautiful environment. I believe Sacramento Music Circus makes a point to bring people together who they think will create a collaborative and respectful atmosphere, and that is so important in not only theatre, but life.
From watching the rain fall for the first time during Singin' in the Rain, to performing Patti Colombo’s INSANELY incredible and challenging choreography every night in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, to revisiting a show that means so much to me like Newsies, I can definitely say that this summer at Music Circus was one I’ll remember forever. Although a two-week rehearsal process may seem short, anything can be done when your surrounded by hard work and kindness.