Backstage at Blythe Spirit

Andy Tauber, left, and Patrick Buckley praise the backstage improvements at the River City Playhouse in Ilwaco. The next production, Noel Coward’s comedy, “Blythe Spirit,” opens July 19. Tauber is the director, and Buckley is assistant director and plays an onstage role.

ILWACO — Some supernatural happenings are forecast with the next community theater production being staged in Ilwaco.

But some very down-to-Earth enhancements have backstage crews at Peninsula Players smiling.

As director Andy Tauber and his cast work on the latest production of “Blythe Spirit,” they are enjoying a significant turnaround in technical operations.

Successful fund raisers have paid for enhancements on the balcony’s array of technical equipment. The lighting and sound boards — run by crew members hidden from the audience — are now established on tables that are on the same level. Previously they were on different levels, which meant it was awkward for one person to operate both. The lights themselves and color filters are now repaired and hung on sturdy pegs.

“This was just a disaster back there,” said Tauber, gesturing at a now-tidy array of lights, filters and control boards. A new professional quality set of wireless headphones will allow backstage helpers to quietly communicate on cues for actor’s entrances, stage effects or other production aspects.

Although too late for this production, a $3,400 grant from the Templin Foundation will pay for a lighting grid — important rigging that will enhance safety while adding flexibility to the lights configured above the stage. “It makes it more efficient,” Tauber said.

“It’s a lot less stressful for a tech-heavy show,” added Patrick Buckley, an actor in the last three Peninsula Players’ productions who is serving as assistant director for “Blythe Spirit.”

Buckley also plays a role, and he and his fellow actors have a short while remaining to rehearse Noel Coward’s comedy. The play is about a man seeking happiness with his second wife, who is harassed by the interfering ghost of his first wife (who appears on stage, but only he can see). It opens July 19 and runs two weekends.

Tauber doesn’t want to spoil any surprises for potential audience members unfamiliar with the details of the show, but he will reveal that significant lengths of fishing wire are used to create special effects.

To say more would spoil any surprises set in motion by longtime Peninsula character actor Rose Power, who plays the spiritualist medium Madame Arcati.

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