HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - It’s the human equivalent of an anthill that has been hit by a baseball.
Boards going here. Technicians going there. Two-way radios blaring at the same time.
It’s a shotgun approach which, as time rolls closer to curtain, gradually and precisely, folds itself into a laser beam focused on a sold out crowd.
It’s backstage about five hours before the first night of Riverdance.
Mark Anderson is from Wales and keeps the city that is production and tech crew running efficiently. The goal is perfection and you work up from there.
“It’s not just the dancers that need to look sharp. The lighting has to look sharp. The set has to look sharp. Everything has to be 100% polished. And crisp. The dancing reflects the set and vice versa.”
It’s a team and Mark Anderson sounds like a coach made of equal parts motivational speaker, football coach, and professional negotiator.
“l love solving things as they happen. Problem solving is the one thing I love doing. Also, for me it’s meeting the locals. Some people only meet people in their cubicles. This week I will meet people from Alabama, Florida, Georgia. It's learning all the cultures and just meeting people.”
The pace is grueling. I asked Mark what is the one thing the average ticket buyer doesn’t know.
“They don’t realize the actors have to stand in subzero water for 20 minutes following the show just to stop things like shin splints and pain in the legs so they have to stand in the water up to their thighs for 20 minutes.”
The Broadway Theatre League is a mainstay on the Huntsville cultural landscape. It was created in 1959. Because of the Broadway Theatre League, Broadway's most iconic plays have made a stop in Huntsville.