On Oct. 28, trucks for “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” backed into the loading dock at Bass Concert Hall. Two days later, “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah’s crew arrived and began unpacking truckloads of wheeled cases for his standup performance. Light and sound technicians dressed in black T-shirts and black jeans, armed with walkie-talkies and highly active cellphones, moved trusses through the windowless back corridors and onto the grand stage at Bass.
Fallon’s lighting was installed by his own contracted engineers, who collaborated with Texas Performing Arts’ master electricians, Sarah Cantu and Seb Boone, and lighting supervisor Jeff Ellinger. Once the wires were all connected, Cantu said they were ready to “go hot.” She pulled a throw switch, and the tests began.
The luxurious stage curtains at Bass not only stand as an anticipatory symbol but also keep the complex, intricate, fast-paced and sometimes overwhelming backstage hustle a mystery to the many visitors who come for a night of comedy, music or drama.
“In comparison to Broadway, this is way, way more intense because of the number of clients we service and the number of shows we bring. It’s a crazy amount of shows,” says Gene Bartholomew, director of marketing and communications for TPA.
Texas Performing Arts is a wheel that turns 365 days a year, and Bass is only one of its five venues – it also presents shows in McCullough Theatre, Bates Recital Hall, Oscar G. Brockett Theatre and B. Iden Payne Theatre.
A highly qualified and passionate team of about 50 staff members keeps that wheel turning; without constant orchestration from all departments, it would bend, wear and wobble.
“I spend a lot of time in meetings,” says Yvonne Kimmons, assistant director of performance logistics. “We plan out a year to two years from now.”