The Sofa Saga: Why I Love Live Theatre

Ever driven two thousand miles in a two-day period, just to pick up a broken couch?  No?  Well, it’s clear to me, my friend, that you haven’t been spending enough time at the theatre.  How else can you explain the incredible amount of sanity you still possess?

There are numerous variables that must be taken into account when one is producing a play.  Most of these variables are fairly predictable and easily solved, but there’s always that one little issue that refuses to work itself out.  And that’s how Matt and Jeff, two of the owners at The Echo, found themselves driving to Midland, Texas, at one in the morning, just days before the opening of An Ideal Husband.

The object of their pursuit?  A sofa.  And not just any sofa, either.  A sofa from the Victorian era that once belonged to Matt’s great grandmother.  And a Victorian sofa is essential when one is performing a Victorian piece.

There’s just a slight problem with a sofa from that era–it’s old.  And old things sometimes break.

This is in no way an attempt at foreshadowing (shifty eyes).

Undaunted, Matt and Jeff made the heroic trek to Midland, stopped for a few hours to say hi to family, and made the trek back to Provo with the beloved sofa in tow.  Sure, it had a crack in the base board.  Sure, the trip was long and the boys were exhausted.  But no matter!  With just a little love, the sofa was fixed up and placed on the stage for its theatrical debut.

And what a debut it was.  No doubt the sofa was beaming with pride underneath the glow of the lights.  What an honor to be a set piece in a show written by the eloquent Oscar Wilde.  Perhaps the sofa was too overcome with happiness, or too overwhelmed with stage fright.  Whatever the case, it only lasted through the first act.

Two lovely ladies were being oh-so-proper and saying oh-so-many witty things when the couch collapsed.  In the middle of the performance.  With a reviewer in the audience.

Luckily for the sofa, the reviewer was amused.  “Perhaps the best example of the actors’ skill, and my favorite moment of the show, was when a sofa collapsed beneath Lady Markby (Jennifer Mustoe) and Mrs. Chevely (Cherie Julander). The two played off the set malfunction without a hitch: Mustoe apologized; the two stood up, shook off their surprise, and continued with the scripted conversation without ever breaking character. All this in the face of uproarious audience laughter.” Julia Shumway, Utah Theater Bloggers.

And that, my friends, is why I love live theatre.  My favorite part of a movie is often the blooper reel, and theatre is its own blooper reel.  Nowhere else can you see such a great creative collaboration happening live, right in front of you.  And that is worth driving two thousand miles.

Want to see the couch in action?  Come see An Ideal Husband.  There are only 5 more performances left!

–Julianna Blake


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