Sailing has numerous superstitions, but so does the theater. Todd Aberts took his family sailing near Williamsburg and talked about his work as production manager of the Raleigh Community Theater in North Carolina.
“It’s bad luck to say Macbeth on stage because of a disastrous fire in England that killed many people and destroyed the theater during a run of ‘Macbeth.’ They call it the Scottish play, or M or Mac-B but never say the word outright.
“You’re not supposed to whistle on stage, because in the old days the stage hands were sailors and longshoremen who were trained to drop their cargo on the signal of a whistle. On stage, if someone whistles, they can get hit with a sandbag or worse. Theaters also have lights to ward off ghosts, even if it’s just a bare bulb on an empty stage.”
Todd’s forte is building sets, and his family kids him that he could never build a house because it wouldn’t last long. “I’m a temporary carpenter who can erect a set to last for weeks. I get bored if I have to build to great detail.”
What are the hardest sets to build? “I get that question a lot. ‘Les Miserables’ requires a giant turntable so that the audience gets both perspectives of the barricades. ‘Miss Saigon’ has a helicopter on stage. ‘My Fair Lady’ can have 18 sets, including a full study. It just depends on how much time and resources you have to invest in the sets.”