There’s no business like show business, and Alternative High School students in Kathy Muenz’s dance and theater class got to see the inner workings of the Bardavon during a recent field trip.
Tom Rosato, the Bardavon’s technical director, led Muenz and six students on a tour of the historic theater showing them everything from the dressing rooms where musical legends including Carlos Santana and Tony Bennett relaxed before a show to the rope and sandbag system that raises and drops curtains.
“We tie sandbags to those rope lines so that you counterweight the system,” Rosato explained. “We are one of the few systems that still uses the rope and sandbag mechanism.”
Common theater terms such as calling a stage “the deck” came from sailors who would assist theater personnel with tying curtain ropes. Rosato also explained how the infamous phrase “break a leg” originated, referring to a leg line, where actors were queued to perform.
“That comes from actually setting foot on stage, breaking the line of the leg,” Rosato said. “If you broke the leg and you went on stage, you got paid.”
Muenz was happy to see students not only learn new information, but also recall theater terminology she taught them in class.
“They were able to answer questions about theater,” Muenz said. “It helped to have a hands-on and visual experience of things that I have talked about.”
If students are interested in seeing a performance at the Bardavon or elsewhere because of the trip, Muenz considers it icing on the cake.
“I think it was very successful,” Muenz said. “The kids really learned a lot.”
Senior Michael Ford appreciated Muenz for arranging the trip where he most enjoyed learning how the rope and sandbag system worked.
“That was really cool,” Ford said. “It was way better seeing it in person than just listening about it.”
The best part of the trip for Senior Shawn Giglio was climbing a ladder to see the rope and sandbag system up close, something he did not realize some theaters still use.
“I think that’s what’s really unique about this theater,” Giglio said. “I definitely wouldn’t have even gone here if it wasn’t for my teacher.”