Longtime Orpheum Theatre "house man" Dave Marietta has collected an SRO crowd's worth of stories and observations in his 50-year career. Here are a few.
When a show is causing problems backstage, the crews come up with altered names for them as a way of helping get through the night — like "Mary Stoppins" or "Scream Girls."
"We used to load in on Hawthorne and 1st Avenue. There were garbage cans right by the windows to the stars' dressing rooms on the first floor. The manager in those days wouldn't pay the bills and it would pile up. I have a picture of Richard Harris with garbage piled high behind him. We were so embarrassed we would throw it in the back of our pickups. Rodney Dangerfield opened the window once and said, 'Hmmm, nice view.' Dick Van Dyke's limo pulled in and all the garbage tipped over on top and it drove down the street with all the bags falling off."
"When we had to put an elephant on stage, I hired structural engineers to do a report on whether the floorboards could hold its weight. One guy says no; another says yes. Then the elephant comes out and tests the stage with one foot. Apparently these big, heavy show animals learn how to do that, through experience, with their own survival skills. I paid these guys a bunch of money and turns out all I had to do was ask the elephant."
"Years later, we had the Rockettes Christmas show. I built this giant ramp to get the animals from the manger scene from the loading dock to the stage — camels, donkeys, sheep. Sure as heck, the camels tested the thing before they would walk up the ramp. We had to make it so there wasn't even a little bit of deflection or they refused to move."