Hippodrome is a treasure

Published: Tuesday, April 1, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 31, 2003 at 10:03 p.m.

On its 30th anniversary, I wish to comment on the cultural and artistic treasure that is the Hippodrome State Theatre.

Recently, I had the privilege of sitting in on rehearsals for the Edward Albee play and the production of "Romeo and Juliet," both directed by the brilliant Lauren Caldwell.

I have enjoyed being a season subscriber for 12 years, but until now, never appreciated the degree of talent and dedication that goes into the many details in a theatrical production.

For example, in "Romeo and Juliet," I observed the director and two actors persist, for almost an hour, to explore the most authentic way of portraying a short scene. I watched the director physically choreograph activities for 21 actors who appeared, on stage, at the same time.

I witnessed the skill of the stage manager, who miraculously kept the whole thing on track by managing all the human and material logistics. I saw actors work with one another to perfect their roles and to create action that enhanced the script.

They made the one-dimensional written play into something alive, filled with unimaginable nuances.

As an audience member, I've taken these things for granted. But I now know that behind the scenes, the Hippodrome actors, artistic and technical staff expend many hours of caring preparation.

They are highly professional, have incredible creativity, high standards of excellence, and an organizational culture that makes this theater so very special.

The productions I have seen over the years have entertained, provoked thoughtful discussion, pushed me to the edge of my tolerances, and have caused me to reflect on the nature of the human condition.

Many of the plays came directly from Broadway, where they won top theater awards.

When I attend theater in New York or London, I am no more pleased than I am right here at the Hipp. I only wish that more of those who are willing to pay big city prices for touring productions at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts supported the outstanding professional theater that has served Gainesville and the region for 30 years.

Those who don't are missing some marvelous theater.

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