A behind-the-scenes look at Theater at UW Tacoma's first musical.
Audience members sway in their seats to the music. Some mumble the words under their breath while others forget decorum and sing along at the top of their lungs with the cast members onstage. A few have turned on their phone flashlights and wave them in time to the melody. Others hold up branded lighters that read "Tacoma Little Theater" and "Rock of Ages." The lighters are free to season ticket holders; everyone else can purchase one in the lobby. It’s not clear who got one as part of a larger subscription and who just bought one, but it doesn’t matter. There is a lot of glowing light dancing in the dark to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
“Rock” is the first musical for the theater program at UW Tacoma. The jukebox musical is a collaboration with the Tacoma Little Theatre. The show is packed with hits from the 1980s including Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” and Foreigner’s “I Wanna Know What Love Is.”
The show is an hommage to the 80s. It is earnest and hilarious — it’s also massive. There are 26 actors in “Rock.” There is also a live band. Of those 26 actors, 11 are current UW Tacoma students and one is a recent alumnus. That’s just onstage. There are many more current or former UW Tacoma students working behind the scenes as crew assisting with everything from stage direction to lighting.
"Rock" opened March 3. The final performance is March 26. A show with this many moving parts (including at least one fog machine) took months to put together. "Rock's" director, Maria-Tania Bandes Becerra Weingarden, and the musical director, Kim Davenport, agreed to keep audio diaries. These diaries chronicle the ups and downs of bringing a musical to the stage. Listen along by clicking on the podcast episode below. Also, Bandes Becerra Weingarden agreed to let us take pictures of the final rehearsal before the show opened.
The exterior of the Tacoma Little Theatre at 210 North I Street
A poster for the musical on display at the Tacoma Little Theatre
The darkened stage of the Tacoma Little Theatre before the start of rehearsal.
An impromptu closet that serves to facilitate the many costume changes in Rock of Ages.
From left to right: Julia Wyman (Waitress #1/Ensemble) with Dylan Twiner (Sound Designer and Production Manager). Twiner is helping Wyman with her microphone.
Members of the Rock of Ages crew conduct a sound check.
From left to right: Former UW Tacoma student Kay Meier (Stage Manager) talks with current UW Tacoma student Katie Jones (sound and MICS).
From left to right: Haunz Stroschen (Ensemble/Joey Primo) talks with Dylan Twiner (Sound Designer/Production Manager)
Theatre schematics alongside a page from the script with Maria-Tania Bandes Becerra Weingarden's handwritten notes on the page.
From left to right: Michelle Weingarden Bandes (Lighting Designer and stepped in for another actor a little over a week before tech) and Maria-Tania Bandes B. Weingarden (Director). Bandes Becerra Weingarden is helping position a microphone.
Ashley Roy (Choreographer) demonstrates a move to the Rock of Ages cast.
From left to right: Kelsey Monahan and Andrew Taula and both ensemble and featured dancers practice a move.
From left to right: Rafe Wadleigh, M. Keala Mills Jr., and Viiny Contini (Dennis, Lonny,and Drew) jump from the stage.
UW Tacoma student Asante Hayes (Venus Room DJ/Ensemble) sings as part of a sound check.
UW Tacoma student Keri Peredo Panlasigui, (Ensemble) sings as part of a sound check.
UW Tacoma student Elle Tena (Ensemble) sings as part of a sound check
Cast members practice a song during rehearsal
From left to right: Director Maria-Tania Bandes Becerra Weingarden and Michelle Weingarden Bandes watch rehearsal.
Former student Arabelis Wally has received a prestigious fellowship at Johns Hopkins University that will support her graduate work. The Thomas Scholarship is awarded to "exceptional students from ... minority-serving institutions to pursue PhDs in STEM fields ... ."
The average tire contains more than 400 chemicals and compounds, including 6PPD, a tire preservative that transforms to 6PPD-quinone in the environment. Researchers at UW Tacoma and WSU Puyallup discovered 6PPD toxicity. The Center for Urban Waters' Ed Kolodziej is quoted.