Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA
Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Five Years of Live Theatre Magic - Priscilla Beach Theatre (PBT), Priscilla Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

I have captured thousands upon thousands of moments photographically at Owners and Guardians Bob and Sandy Malone's, Priscilla Beach Theatre (PBT), over the recent years and many blog readers have asked me how do I do it?

So, here's the story. (The above image is from a sold-out production of "Hairspray" during the 2019 season).

First, for each production, beginning four days before opening night, I attend the first two technical/dress rehearsals to get a sense of how the show flows, how the actors move, how the lighting designer has created the scenes, and how I might capture some of those moments with a camera.

Second, beginning two days before opening night, I attend the final two technical/dress rehearsals and actually create the photographs based on my observations and conclusions from the earlier visits.

How do I pick which ones to publish of the many hundreds I make at each show (sometimes over a thousand since it's digital and I don't have the expense of film)?

I sit down with a cup of tea in a semi-darkened room, turn on some music, and conduct a rough edit/review of the entire batch and end up with somewhere around 100-200 images to pursue further.

Next, I take a more discerning look and end up with about 50-100.
Next, a final edit.
Then, a really final edit.
And last, I publish what is remaining.

As an editor, the first thing I look for is a pleasing composition.
Second, does it depict an evocative or representative narrative.
Third, is it technically sound: focus, lighting, exposure, color, contrast.
Fourth, does it portray the central performer(s) in an appropriate manner for the scene.
Fifth, is it a good reflection on PBT and the production.

I do not generally color-correct the exaggerated color schemes that stage lighting produces. It is what it is - sometimes natural light, sometimes too red, sometimes too blue, and so on - it's theatre - an exaggerated look is sometimes part of the plan and package.

I try to provide a broad overview of each production, capturing both the lead role actors and the ensemble role actors.  Live theatre photography is particularly challenging to me. I don't control the variables as I would in many other types of photography. The various theatre experts (directors, designers, producers, etc.) control the actors and set the staging, the movement, the lighting, the facial expressions, the costumes; the only things I really get to control during the performance are the camera settings, the angle of view, and when to press the shutter release. Similar to sports photography, many/most images are not usable. Good thing I don't have to buy film........

All shows over these past five years at PBT were produced by Owners and Guardians Bob and Sandy Malone and Production Manager Joshua Patino, (with lots of help from others but, those three individuals are the relentless drivers).

Take a trip down memory lane by following the blog post links from each of the 28 Priscilla Beach Theatre Barn Stage adult cast productions over these five years that I have photographed. (PBT also offers a vibrant Children's Workshop series each season but, I have not included my images from those herein).

*By the way, my use of the term "actor," is non-gender specific. I have been advised by experts in the industry that it is an appropriate all-gender inclusive terminology.


"Life Could Be A Dream" in May,

"Heathers the Musical" in June,

"Young Frankenstein" in October.


"The Last Five Years" in May,

"The Drowsy Chaperone" in June,

"Guys and Dolls" in July,

"Bye, Bye, Birdie" in August,

"Damn Yankees" in September,

"Dames at Sea" in October,


"The Marvelous Wonderettes" in May,

"Nunsense" in June,

"West Side Story" in July,

"The Producers" in August,

"All Shook Up" in September,

"Little Shop of Horrors" in October.


"Breaking Up is Hard To Do" in May,

"Noises Off" in June,

"A Chorus Line" in July,

"A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" in August,

"Arsenic and Old Lace" in September,

"First Date" in October.


"Fiddler on the Roof" in July,

"Chicago" in August,

"The Odd Couple" in September,

"Breaking Up is Hard To Do" in October.


My most sincere thanks to Owners and Guardians Bob and Sandy Malone, first, for restoring this iconic facility to become the performing arts jewel of southeast Massachusetts, and second, for permitting and encouraging my access throughout the years. And a special thanks to Production Manager Joshua Patino whose daily on-site presence was integral to my success over the hundreds of visits over these many years.

It is easy to forget that PBT hasn't always looked as fine as it does today.

Beginning life in 1875 as a barn on a farm, in 1937 it became a theatre.  When Bob and Sandy Malone purchased it in 2013, it had fallen into disrepair and was on the brink of collapse.

It didn't just need a new coat of red paint.

Everything needed rebuilding, replacing, or refurbishing.

Rot was in many places from years of neglect and from storm damage caused by the sometimes harsh New England weather.

In places, it needed a new foundation and rebuilding from the bottom up.....

....and the top down.

But many of the "bones" of the structure were good and strong and with the right architect and builder and time and money......

....Bob and Sandy Malone brought this place back to life - so that we can today enjoy Broadway-class productions on its stage.

The leaves that blew in through the cracks are no longer welcome and the uncomfortable wooden chairs of yesteryear have been replaced with new and cushy for your tushy.

It is no small feat what Bob and Sandy Malone accomplished in the past, continue to do in the present, and will do for us in the future! Support this extraordinary community jewel with your attendance.

And yes, I am proud to be a shameless cheerleader for this amazing and magical place and what they create with talented actors, musicians, crew, and audience. As I've said before, the whole is so much greater than the sum of the parts.

Note: It might be true that I enjoyed my own theatre debut here - if one can call a 66-year old man dressed in a hot dog suit running down the aisle in "Hairspray" as acting.

Looking forward to the next five's the upcoming 2020 season:

Come see and hear and feel the magic!

No comments:

Post a Comment