After trying out a church basement, college music rooms and even a storage closet, it seems that Opera Birmingham may have found the proverbial shoe that fits when it comes to rehearsal space for its production of Massenet’s “Cinderella.”
“Rehearsals went very well over the weekend,” said Opera Birmingham’s Director of Operations and Production Amy Gilbert Richardson. “We heard lots of comments throughout the weekend from both our cast and creative staff about how comfortable the building is to work in, what a cool space it is, and how great the facilities are.”
Opera Birmingham doesn’t have its own dedicated practice space, so casts practice in several places throughout the city. Through March 15, the organization will be using the biggest conference room in REV’s SocialVenture to map out the staging and begin working on the musical elements of the show with talent from all over the U.S.
“It’s just really positive-feeling space. Whenever I come over here, I would always go back to work feeling really energized. It’s a really good spot.”
Conference rooms aren’t usually at the top of most people’s list of places they would expect to find rehearsals, but Richardson said SocialVenture, which is also home to REV’s offices and coworking space, has some practical amenities that made it perfect for Opera Birmingham.
The former warehouse turned workspace fit the bill by having the proper amount of space to host a full cast as well as being a secure building with parking. It also has an often overlooked amenity: the proper amount of bathrooms for performers.
Opera Birmingham also used some of the technology available to add more value to rehearsals.
“Since we were the only ones in the building over the weekend, we used the Georgia conference room for a production meeting and very much appreciated the ability to project renderings of scenic & costume designs as well as photos of our cast and potential props, via the Apple TV for the entire group to see and participate in discussion about.”
On top of all of the practical necessities, Richardson said the vibes of the building sealed the deal.
“It’s just really positive-feeling space,” she said. “Whenever I come over here, I would always go back to work feeling really energized. It’s a really good spot.”
Practicing in Woodlawn also helps Opera Birmingham’s objective to make the opera more accessible to new audiences.
“We’re trying to break the mold,” Richardson said. “We want to get the word out that we’re as much fun as any other performance…We just want people to know that it’s a great night at the theatre.”
This telling of “Cinderella” will be sung in French, but audience members can follow along with subtitles on a screen. Richardson says it’s a good starting place for anyone curious about opera.
“I don’t know if there’s anyone who doesn’t know the story of Cinderella, so this one is absolutely a good first opera for anyone and certainly a great option for a family,” she said. “We are planning some special surprises for before the show and after the performances.
“It’s going to look a lot like Disney, but it’s going to sound very French, she said.
Catch Opera Birmingham’s production of Massenet’s “Cinderella”
Friday, March 20-Sunday, March 22
Samford University’s Wright Center
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