White Horse Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

White Horse Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA
White Horse Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

"Chicago," Priscilla Beach Theatre, Priscilla Beach, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

Priscilla Beach Theatre (PBT) is about to open the second major adult cast production this summer on its newly restored Barn Stage with the TONY Award winning popular show, "Chicago."  The original run was scheduled for nine performances beginning on August 7th over three weekends but, it sold out so fast they added two more shows and those tickets are almost gone, too! 

You can visit PBT's website at http://www.pbtheatre.org/ or call 508-224-4888 for tickets and more information. 

The story is about about murder, greed, corruption and set amidst the razzle-dazzle decadence of the 1920s. "Chicago" is the story of Roxie Hart, a housewife and nightclub dancer who murders her on-the-side lover.

Produced by Bob and Sandy Malone, directed by Michael Hammond, musical director Christopher Ricci.

Images are in order of appearance in the show.

Unusually, this is my third post about this show. Many of you loyal readers are also amateur photographers like me. Since the Barn Stage has reopened at PBT, I have been greatly challenged trying to successfully photograph the rehearsal events there.  Finding the right combination of shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and white balance to consistently yield pleasing images that are sharp, well-lighted and composed has been elusive.  Constraints of proximity to the stage, multicolored stage lighting, no flash, no static poses, all images made during live stage action have compounded the challenge.     

While it is true that my point-and-shoot images are intended only for internet use - not for enlarging or printing  - I still want the sharpest and most pleasing images I can make.

I have used both my normal point-and-shoot camera and have also borrowed a full-frame sensor DSLR for comparison. Both face the same light/location challenges but, no big surprise, the full-frame sensor camera gives a better result - less noise, better detail.  But - the same constraints exist regardless the equipment. Maybe a few more years of practice will help - if I don't wear out my welcome in the meantime.

So what does all this rambling about photography challenges mean? My conclusion is: I need to just chill out and stop whining about the inconsistencies and instead focus on capturing the energy and vitality of the performers and the show. If the picture captures and communicates an emotion or circumstance or statement then I have succeeded. Some of these images definitely achieve that goal.

The ensemble image is the most difficult.  None of the performers are posing for me - they are performing. My goal is to capture an instant in time where none of them has eyes closed, or mouth too distorted, or are unbalanced, or badly lighted, or otherwise look too awkward.  And since they are singing during these group scenes, their mouths often assume odd shapes as they vocalize.  Long story short, I have hundreds of good shots that will never see the light of day because of one or more of these defects. And yes, I wish all the skin tones were more lifelike, too.  It's a long road to the mastery of any craft - I am finding that photographing live stage performances is a mighty narrow niche.

In any case, it is a fun experience for me - observing and photographing these rehearsals from high atop a ladder in front of the stage, then reviewing the results, selecting the keepers, final editing, and lastly publishing. Capturing the vitality and excitement of live theatre is a way to remember and enjoy all over again, the thrill of the performance - the lights, the sounds, the music - magical stuff comes from this stage!

It is, in the final analysis, not about me and my images - it is about the performers and the show - such extraordinary and wonderful skills and talents these performers possess and have honed to a fine edge.  They bring such passion and vitality to their roles.  Being a performing artist is a remarkable endeavor.  I salute them all!

(By the way, the odd things you see on some of the performers foreheads or faces are microphones).

Black and white images serve two purposes - lets me side-step the color issue and fits nicely with the Chicago in the 1920's theme of the show.

Support live theatre in our community at Priscilla Beach Theatre - or wherever you live in the world!

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