Jean-Claude the snail is ready for tonight. He's French.
(Gillette, Wyo.) "There's two sides to this, make sure the pretty side is facing out."
Ali Schubert is a set designer from Gillette, who has returned to town to be with family for a while. She's spent time teaching and working summer stock in Illinois, but is volunteering this summer with the Gillette Community Theater to help Campbell County High School drama students learn a lot about theater production. She says that Gillette's community theater is not necessarily much different from a professional stage.
"The big thing about theater is the communication and the camaraderie between all the departments," Schubert told County 17. She says assistant director Tim Bessette has been very helpful getting her acclimated to how the local productions work. "I'm used to more hands-on directors, but with this show I've had a lot of free rein."
Tonight's show is the opening for the musical Dr. Doolittle, Gillette Community Theater's first production of the 2016-2017 season. Bessette says they wanted to pick a show that would be a lot of fun for people of all ages, but especially something that kids would be interested in.
"It has a whimsical atmosphere to it, and having a lot of animals is usually a draw for kids," he said. "A lot of parents probably grew up with Dr. Doolittle, a lot of students grew up with Eddie Murphy's version of Dr. Doolittle. So it's a family-oriented musical."
There are 42 people working on this year's production, and about half of them are in junior high and high school. It's taken nearly two months of work, working five nights a week, to get ready for tonight's show. Bessette estimates the show's star, Evan Byrd, has probably spent at least 200 hours on his own preparing for tonight.
Everyone is looking forward to the show opening, because of how much fun they say the production is going to be. Schubert is excited to see the audience's reaction to some of her set pieces.
"I'm a big rolling, spinning, independent piece kind of designer. From what I understand, most of the community is used to box set kind of sets, which is one set that doesn't really move or go anywhere."
She says her favorite piece is Dr. Doolittle's home, but her second favorite is Jean-Claude, the rolling, giant pink snail that Dr. Doolittle chases throughout the course of the play. Because of the limited wing space on CCHS's stage, every set piece spins around and has a dual role. The crew has tried their hardest to make everything look three-dimensional and dynamic, despite working with a limited budget and resources.
Dr. Doolittle: The Musical starts tonight at 7 p.m. at CCHS North Campus. It runs through next weekend. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for children, or a family rate of $35.