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Behind the Scenes at Shadowbox’s Schiller Show

Walker Evans Walker Evans
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Shadowbox has won quite a bit of acclaim with their Woodstock-based “Back to the Garden” musical, so they’ve decided to take their show on the road. You won’t have to go far to see them though (it might actually be closer for many readers), as they’re making their way to Schiller Park in German Village to put on a free show tomorrow evening at 8pm.

“We’ve probably spent over 100 man hours already just on this one performance,” laughed Shadowbox Head Writer Jimmy Mak. “I don’t think Steve (Guyer, Director/Producer) realized exactly what he was getting into when he said yes to this.”

Many small alterations to the show have been made over the past few weeks to accommodate for the differences between their intimate indoor stage at their home venue at Easton Town Center and the larger outdoor stage in Schiller Park.

“Because the stage is so much bigger than what we’re used to, we decided that we’d need to add some extras to help fill the space or else it would end up looking silly,” explained Assistant Director Julie Klein. “We also had to do a lot of re-blocking, which means that without lighting signals, we have to have actors move toward focus areas to draw the audience’s attention, and keep other people on the stage fairly still, so that the audience knows where a scene is taking place.”

Additionally, set design and music acoustics were taken into consideration for the transition to the outdoor space.

“Creating the large speaker towers was a big job for our sound guys, and we had to figure out how we’d integrate those into the set,” said Set Designer Mark Dahnke. “We’re bringing in a few adapted pieces from Easton to use in the show here, but we’ve also got to create our front-of-the-house Tech Booth from scratch. That’s a huge undertaking, and there are a lot of other small details to think about too.”

When bringing in additional cast members and extras for the show, Shadowbox reached out to other theatre groups and students for assistance.

“It was fun to gather a secondary cast,” said Klein. “We have four or five kids from Columbus Children’s Theatre, we have Metro High School students who have been training in our Shadowbox Boot Camp, and we have the Shadowbox volunteers who are extremely excited to help throughout the day as our ‘please force’ in their white jumpsuits.”

Theatrical performances in Schiller Park are nothing out of the ordinary, as the Actors Theatre of Columbus has regularly performed their Shakespeare in the Park series for the past 25 years. Some controversy did arise from the German Village Society last year when Oktoberfest was being planned for a return to the neighborhood. The event was relocated to the fairgrounds at the last minute after neighbors decided that the event would be too large and to disruptive.

Shadowbox doesn’t anticipate any sort of problematic issues, but does foresee a large turnout tomorrow.

“We made sure that the neighborhood was cool and knew what was going on, and the feedback has been completely positive so far,” said Mak. “The buzz on the street right now about the show is pretty huge, so we have no idea what to expect in terms of turnout. We’ve hired some food and drink vendors to come in at noon to accomodate anyone who decides to make a day of it in Schiller Park.”

“This is new and exciting and terrifying all at the same time,” said Video Director, David Whitehouse. “We’d love for this show to be highly successful and have it become an annual staple event in Columbus in the summer.”

“Absolutely!” added Klein. “We didn’t know how many man hours were going to be involved in figuring out how to do this show, but with everything that we do, if we spend that much time on learning something new, we certainly want to reuse that knowledge. We’d love to look at some of the other venues like The LC or Columbus Commons and make this a yearly event.”

“But we’ll have to see how it all turns out tomorrow first,” she added with a laugh.

“Back to the Garden” takes place in Schiller Park on Sunday, August 1st at 8pm. More information can be found online at WoodstockMusical.com and ShadowboxCabaret.com/Shows/Schiller-Park/.

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