Monday, April 9, 2012

Hastings, Nebraska

Panoramic View of Hastings, Nebraska. Photogra...Panoramic View of Hastings, Nebraska. Photograph taken in 1909. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

            Another yearly stop for the World of Fantasy Players was Hastings, Nebraska which is about 25 miles south of Grand Island.  This was one of those towns that we would just go into to play the show and then leave. When I managed this troupe of performers of family oriented stage productions, I tried to make it so we could stay in the same motel for more than one night whenever possible.  The proximity of Hastings to the other play date town of Grand Island made a multiple night stay in the latter town an ideal situation.

           Hastings is a quaint little town of twenty-some thousand people.  It's a heartland town surrounded by farm country.   Hastings experienced a boom in the late 1800s with the advent of the railroad.  One of the notable claims to fame of Hastings is that it was the birthplace of Kool-Aid in 1927.

           Since we basically just popped into town to perform our production, we never got to experience much of the town.  I'm not sure we even ever ate there.  For us it was a matter of arrive in town, do the show, and leave.

           Our performance was always at the wonderfully ornate Masonic Temple.  Probably built in the earlier part of the 20th century, the building was impressive with an elegantly decorated interior that had been well maintained.  The stage was a vintage vaudeville era fixture with elaborate backdrops hung in a high fly loft.  There were several scenery changes that depicted palace scenes and Egyptian themed backgrounds with pyramids and date trees.  Despite its age the entire rigging and lighting system was in impeccable working order.

          The "house" or audience seating area was also immaculate with plush theater seats and fancy carved wood-paneled walls.  I would walk around the inside of the theater and admire everything inside the performance hall and in the outside hallways and lobby.  This theater never failed to amaze me and the others in the show.

         The biggest difficulty was the load-in.   The stage loading door was at the top of a steep narrow ramp that was barely wide enough to back our show truck on.  We would manage with careful maneuvering and a precarious climb out of the truck window for the driver.

           Once we were in and had the stage set and props in place, it made for a truly magical performance.  We always had a good crowd in Hastings and they always seemed to be quite appreciative of the show.  The performances in Hastings were a special part of each year's tour.

            Do you have any unique old theaters near where you live?    Is there something that makes your workplace especially memorable?


       
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8 comments:

Matthew MacNish said...

Sounds charming.

Mary Aalgaard, Play off the Page said...

That sounds fantastic. What type of shows did you do? There is an old opera house in a nearby town. It's currenlty unused, but if someone had the means to restore it, it would be just like the one you describe.

Lynn Proctor said...

yes one local theatre comes to mind--it shows matinees and cheaper already released movies--has the best oil popped pop-corn but has the most uncomfortable seats--were people really that much smaller 60 years ago--great post

ediFanoB said...

There are no unique old theaters near the place I live.

This year is my year 21

I work since 21 years for the same company.
I live since 21 years in the same town.

My wife and I will celebrate our 21st wedding anniversary.

My daughter will turn 21.

That makes it easy to keep in mind.

Ella said...

I love the magic of those old theaters! Thanks for sharing!

It does sound wonderful~

Arlee Bird said...

Our production company essentially presented stage magic musical productions with a traditional story as the framing device. We did stories such as Cinderella, Wizard of Oz, and Snow White. We played all sorts of venues including the occasional historic theater.

Thanks for the comments today.

Lee

Sue H said...

Lee - would have loved to have seen one of your shows! I am smitten by the theatre-bug - we get to London's West End whenever we can (and have been known to hit matinee AND evening performances at different theatres in the same day!)
Some beautiful old theatres there, many finely restored to their Victorian/Edwardian magnificence - although the Adelphi, in The Strand, is a wonderful example of Art Deco!

Being in the exact centre of England, we have a wealth of local theatres virtually on our doorstep - and we love visiting new ones.

You can't beat 'live' performance, whether it's music, magic, or plays! :-)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lee ... Hastings is east of here - but not yours! The theatre sounds very maintained then and beautiful - how 'fun?' for the truck driver to climb out of the window - those were the days.

Hastings sounded like a very good stop over for you .. We've a few theatres and a cinema that's 90 years old .. they do bring very good productions down ..

Cheers Hilary