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Theater student adjusts the lighting for the department production of "Our Town," which opens Feb. 9 in the Campus Center Pit Theater.
Theater student adjusts the lighting for the department production of "Our Town," which opens Feb. 9 in the Campus Center Pit Theater.

Otterbein Theatre Department’s production of “Our Town” extends run after damage to Fritsche Theatre forces last-minute location change

The department has nearly doubled the amount of shows

A play once scheduled to perform in a theater seating 1,047 will now take place in a black box theater seating only 244. 

Only weeks before the Otterbein Theatre Department’s production of “Our Town” was scheduled to take place in Cowan Hall’s Fritsche Theater, water damage forced the production to move to the recently renovated Campus Center “Pit” Theater. Performances have been added to the show’s original run to accommodate the large number of tickets previously sold, as well as upcoming ticket purchases the department anticipates for the production.

“We had about 1,600 people that we needed to re-ticket for the Campus Center and that was way too many for what the Campus Center could provide us so we added performances,” Elizabeth Saltzgiver, managing director for the Department of Theatre and Dance, said.

Originally a two-weekend performance schedule with eight shows total, the Otterbein Theatre Department made the decision to add extra performance times and a supplemental weekend. This nearly doubled the number of performances, with a total of fourteen showings occurring from Feb 9. through Feb 25

The sudden change in location not only resulted in the addition of performances, but also altered the production’s rehearsal process and theatrical design. 

“We have things that we built that just don’t fit in the pit[...]the director and performers had to completely restage the play in terms of physical movement and blocking[…]and I had just had a lighting designer turn in their lighting paperwork for Cowan,” T.J. Gerckens, chair of the Otterbein Theatre and Dance Department, said.

Reworking the logistics stretched on into tech week, a time productions normally spend brushing up minor details.

“It's weird in this case because usually tech is the time where it’s no longer about the actors and it’s about the tech,” said junior acting major Quincy Shaindlin, who is playing the role of Charles Webb. “It’s this really hectic situation that I've never really experienced quite like this where we're all sort of trying to figure out how to make it work at the same time."

Despite the current uncertainty of the production’s organization, Shaindlin said, “I think the limitations in theater force us to create more creative options and as a result, it’s more meaningful in the end."

“I really appreciate everybody's flexibility with it[…]everyone’s just been like ‘okay, we’re changing gears’,” Gerckens added.

The water damage to the Fritsche Theater leaves the Otterbein Theatre and Dance Department unsure of the location of this semester’s future theatrical productions, such as the spring musical “Bright Star," which has already begun selling tickets. 

During winter break, Gerckens entered Cowan Hall and discovered a radiator pipe located on the back wall of the Fritsche Theater had broken, resulting in severe flooding which seeped through the floor and ceiling, causing water damage to both the stage and dressing rooms. 

“The floor was buckling, warping, blistering,” Gerckens said. “We think it’s a total loss and will have to be redone, but we won’t know until we get those estimates in."

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