Ada and the Engine (Sept 7 – Oct 6, 2018) by Lauren Gunderson kicked off our 5th season, and earned Scenic Designer Eric Niece a Wilde nomination for his set, which included gears that spun.
This show was a perfect example of what can happen when you bring in an amazing team and allow them a chance to use their art to further the story. I had given Eric a lot of room to play with the set design, and what he came up with was far and away better than any of the ideas I had thrown out. Then Harley took the lights to amazing heights. Geri choreographed a great closing number, and also helped breath life and joy into all the transitions. I loved the choice we made to use Bryon in all the transitions, delivering letters and showing the constant presence he had in Ada’s life, even while being absent. I loved designing the sound for the show… all waltzes done electronically. Cheryl’s costumes were gorgeous. And every performance was top notch. All the actors were willing to boldly try new things, and work to make the stylized visual elements combine with heartfelt, honest performances. The moment at the end when the gears spun and the lights when on and off with the zeros and ones? I threw my hands in the air like my team had won a touchdown the first time I saw it. Which they had. This creative team was amazing. I kept saying how pretty the show was. And it was all in service of the story – Krista Schafer Ewbank, director
When I auditioned for Ada I honestly thought I bombed the audition and I was too old for the role. So when Krista called to offer me the part I was floored. Despite training as an actor, the majority of the work I do now is in the director’s seat, so it was truly an honor to dust off my chops at the theatre that is my artistic home. Ada is just cool. She is so much cooler of a person than I ever could be, and so to get to explore the human element of this badass woman — her self doubt, her fear, her low points, her triumphs, her aches for acceptance and love — was a gift. I am so thankful I had this experience.
Things I remember:
-how I completely spaced on the dance on opening night and Josh was a dear and just went with it
-the scene at the top of Act 2 with Lindel that terrified me and yet left me feeling so gratified as an actor
– “Perhaps I’m just a flightless bird.” “An emu.”’
-my pretty purple dress! (thanks Cheryl!)
-the rehearsal with Krista, Matt and I were we decided to chuck everything in the entire last scene and just play, and the magic that happened when we did
-feeling so connected onstage and off to the cast and crew
-the song at the end, and getting the chills every night as the lights when down on that last moment (and getting the chills now thinking about it!)
P.S. This is also the first show my now-husband ever saw me act in. The bar was set high. 😉 – Sarah Hawkins Rusk, Ada
There is so much that I love about this production. The set, the costumes, the lights, the sound, the direction, and the cast. I grew so much as an actor and as a human doing this show. It was my first foray in to playing a real person, and I wanted to do justice to Anabella as far as the script would allow. I want to commission Lauren Gunderson to write a show about her. She left quite a profound influence on the world today and more people need to know that! It was a challenge to dig in to her depths and justify why she was so hard on Ada. But through all the research I did it helped to find that path and also know Ada. I can talk your ear off about Ada and Anabella so be forewarned if you ask. 😊. But, what stands out the most, is the audience reaction and the lively talk backs. There were so many who came to see the show because they knew who Ada was and it was fun to hear their stories and how this show resonated with them. To top that off we got to share this with those who didn’t know Ada or her story, and to see their wonder after the show was magical. It was a great example of why we do what we do, and I cherished every minute of it. – Kez Settle, Anabella Byron
Ooohhhh! The spider delicately descending between Lindel and me! And Lindel’s swift, graceful spider de-clinging. That was fantastic! – Joshua Brown, Lovelace
This was such a wonderful show. Sarah Hawkins Rusk as Ada was lovely and her many expressions were the best. I used the purple tones in her costumes to reflect the her romantic style reminiscent of her father. Dance choreographer Geri Conner made my garments come to life with her movement coaching with the actors. My favorite moment was when the Cynthia came out in the rich blue tone attire I designed for her. She lit up the stage and looked stunning. She is such a devoted actress in anything she does. I was so impressed when Lindel Salow came on weeks into the rehearsals to replace another actor. He caught up and excelled as Charles Babbage. – Cheryl Zemke, Costume Designer
I’m not ashamed to say that this is quite possibly my favorite of my set designs at Open Book. On our first production meeting, Krista essentially gave me permission to just have fun with this set, and I could not thank her more for that. The collaboration with Harley on the LEDs and scoops on the back wall really made this set pop, and it is one that will feature prominently in my portfolio for a long time. One of my fondest memories of this one is working on the small foam gears. I remember spending hours trimming and arranging them so that they fit together just right. The moment that all the motors were running with every gear spinning is one of my proudest moments as a technician. – Eric Niece, Scenic Designer
This was one of my favorite collaborations with a set designer in my professional career. I was so happy with the way this show turned out. It made me flex every muscle. A lot of what I learned to do for Ada will show up in This Random World this September. I’m really excited about that too. I just really loved the pace of this show. Just like the design elements, every thing just locked together nicely. – Harley Miah, Lighting Designer
I loved the last piece adding people into the machine and then watching them face as she faded. That was my favorite. And again….I loved working with all of you. Sincerely. – Geri Conner, choreographer
Directed by Krista Schafer Ewbank. Featuring Sarah Hawkins, Lindel Salow, Joshua Brown, Kez Settle, Cynthia Szczesny, and Matthew Wallace. Scenic Design by Eric Niece, Lighting Design by Harley Miah, Costume Design by Cheryl Zemke, Choreography by Geri Conner. Stage managed by Danielle Gilbert.