Last night had to be one of the hottest day’s of the year so far. There were record heats across the state with heat advisories from the National Weather Service that basically said “stay inside if you don’t have to go out.” So what did Nancy, Matt and I decide to do…….go see Sweeney Todd at Wolf Trap. We actually planned this out a few weeks ago so we didn’t know what the weather was going to be like the night of the performance. My crystal ball can be a little fuzzy that far into the future.
We first planned to get some snake food, a few six packs, and camp out on the lawn till the performance started. As the day approached we got a better idea the weather was going to be hot and humid, we adjusted our plan a little. Instead of arriving early for a picnic we stopped by a pizza shop in Vienna for food. We first tried Whole Foods but it was a bust, they don’t have the eateries like the one in Fair Lakes. The pizza place was over priced and the waitress screwed up Matt and my order. Ugh, the night was not starting off well. To raise our spirits a little we headed over to Norm’s to get some beer for the evening. Matt picked out A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale (Lagunitas Brewing Co.) and Nancy got the Longboard Island Lager (Kona Brewing Co.).
When we got to the venue I was a little discouraged, I thought the heat would keep most people away but the overflow parking lot was pretty full. As I picked up the tickets from will call the warning bell rings letting us know we should be taking our seat shortly. Finding a seat on the lawn this evening was rather easy despite the full parking lot. The last time Nancy and I saw a show at Wolf Trap, Mamma Mia, the lawn was smashed and we were packed in like sardines. Tonight’s performance had plenty of open space for us to spread our blanket and enjoy the show.
The National Symphony Orchestra was in hand to perform the musical score for the evening and they where already on stage tuning and getting ready for the night. Within a few minutes the conductor walks in stage followed by the extras. The stage setup was rather sparse, the orchestra was setup in the back of the stage with the rest of the “set” in front. I use that term loosely as the set consisted of two simple raised platforms and about a dozen red chairs setup in various spots on the stage. The chairs where the major set design for the evening, providing most of the scenory and setting up the various locations needed for the play. The only other major prop on stage was a window that dropped from the ceiling to represent various rooms in the play. Above the stage was a giant screen that would display various pictures to help tell the scene location, could be the streets, the barber shop, or sometimes blood strewn when someone died. Not much in the way of stage design.
The entire play had this feel of scarcity and simplicity that is hard to described. There were very few props throughout the entire performance. A table here and there, the barber chair, the giant window. During scene changes the extras would pick up the chairs and move them around the stage, rather bizarre when you see it. As for the costumes only the main characters had anything close to original outfits, all the extra were dressed in similar plain cloths. From what I could gather this minimal stage presence was because the play was being put on by the Wolf Trap Opera Company, not a nationally touring troop. What they lacked in set design they more than made up for with their acting/singing ability.
All told the show was about 2:30 hours long. Thankfully as the show progressed the temperature dropped but our sweat soaked cloths from earlier prevented us from cooling off. Despite the heat we were not disappointed, enjoying a great evening out on a Friday night.