Your weekend: All set
Dreaming of catching a life-size pumpkin carriage to a ball? Need a painted Victorian front for your fixer-upper? How about a few assorted thrones? Fifty uniforms with matching hats? A reed boat! All of the above on a 14-foot turntable?
Okay, okay, you get it. It’s Alameda Civic Light Opera’s giant theater prop sale this weekend — an accumulation of 11 years’ worth of props, stage sets, hand and power tools and other theater equipment, all being sold to free up storage space and raise funds for Alameda’s favorite musical theater company. The sale will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, February 5-6, in Building 91, 651 West Tower Ave., across from Bladium Sports Club in Alameda Point. And you bet your ruby slippers you’ve got to check it out!
The idea to sell off the props came from Teddy Tabor, director of community relations for ACLO. ACLO, a volunteer-run non-profit company, stages about three shows per season (2009 featured Ragtime, Annie and the highly acclaimed Hair) and runs on an annual budget of $350,000. Its funding comes from grants, donations and fundraising events like this one. As with everything else, cash to keep the show going is getting harder to come by. “We looked at all this stuff and we thought, hey, we could raise some cash, and free up room,” said Tabor, “Let’s have a garage sale.”
“All this stuff” is intimately familiar to Tabor, too. She and her husband, Dr. Richard Tabor, have designed, built and collected almost all of the stage props ACLO is hoping to pass on — a labor of love they have performed on a volunteer basis for 11 seasons and more than 30 shows. Most of the time, the couple keeps a front as a family dental office on a quaint Santa Clara Avenue corner. Come March however, the duo — who share a passion for the stage arts and ACLO in particular — transform themselves into prop designers, carpenters and painters and start cranking out sets for the upcoming season.
The two work off a “wish list” from the show’s director and the set designers, and help come up with creative solutions to stage problems and ways to build what’s needed, whether it be a flying bridge, or a second stage to fit on top of Kofman Auditorium’s original floor. Their favorite stage challenge? A Cinderella coach that had to be large enough to fit two actors inside and sit three outside but small enough to be easily taken on and off the stage, with a pumpkin fully detachable from its frame.
In case anyone thinks Dr. Tabor’s only two passions are teeth and theater, his wife reveals that he was a genetic engineer before he launched his dental career, and that he “dabbles” in woodworking — clearly an understatement in view of the contraptions he has built. She describes him admiringly as the brain behind the prop works, and herself modestly as the set dresser. “Every show is a challenge,” says Teddy, “and my husband loves a challenge. He has an incredible analytical mind. Designing sets provides him with a creative outlet.”
As far as dressing the sets go, Teddy Tabor says, “I just make sure, after everything is set on stage, that it looks authentic; that a Victorian house, for example, looks like a Victorian house — curtains, candles, etc.” Thankfully, the two have no intent of slowing down. They just need the work space, and ACLO can use whatever funds their props can raise.
Some of the items available for sale this weekend, as well as anybody’s viewing pleasure, include half a Model-T from the musical Ragtime, an 1890 upright Steinway piano, a stage coffin, a hodgepodge of sound and lighting equipment, and enough ramps, platforms and staircases — curving, freestanding and otherwise — to bring joy to any backstage enthusiast. A full list of the items is here.
While the hope is that most of the stuff will go to other local theater companies and school drama departments, regular folks are encouraged to come and browse. With a Little Bit of Luck, you are sure to find Something Wonderful or even Perfectly Marvelous that will make you Whistle a Happy Tune on your way home.