We Are Young 6-13-12

I’ll admit it - I’m a theater geek. I have been since I was oh… 15 or 16. I’ve even done something recently, though I took a few years off. (You can read about my not-so-stellar return to the stage at Sudden Theater in a previous post.)

So when a friend sent me the invite to the Rock and Roll review at the District Theatre, I saw an opportunity to see the new theatre, enjoy some great tunes, and maybe get some different photos. My first task was to make sure theatre management was OK with me bringing in a camera. Not only were they good with the idea, Tristan Tapscott said “as long as you post photos on Facebook!” Yeah – he knows good free marketing when he sees it.

Seriously though – shooting a theater stage can be a far cry from shooting a band gig. Once upon a time, I might have done a little light crewing… and I know from experience that lighting for a theatrical production is not the same as lighting for a rock show. The theater was dark – painted black to absorb light and keep focus on the stage. Mix that with theatrical lighting, and a camera without flash (because that’s how I roll) is challenged to pull enough light to do the job right. I took around 200 frames…

The show was awesome. Theater people are different from band people… not that one is better than the other, but they put on a different kind of show. Actors who sing in musical theater have a different sort of voice – and act through their singing. Ballads and slow, emotional songs take on a different tone. But this group rocked the classic rock songs as well – from Queen to Meatloaf! The latter was very fitting – with the closing number being the Time Warp from Rocky Horror.)

The theater is amazing. I’ve been in a few over the years, but this one is definitely unique. The District Theatre is located in an old storefront in downtown Rock Island, just west of the main District drag. The stage is actually built at the basement level of the building, and a section of the main floor has been removed. Where the floor was cut away is visible on the raw brick wall on the house’s east side. Repurposed theater seating has been installed on risers from the basement floor to the middle of the first level. Part of the main level floor was left intact, allowing for a walkway along the west side of the house – which leads to the back door and restrooms. The walkway is wide enough for chairs, so it is possible to have extra seating. The front door/lobby and lounge area have a collection of seating, including old couches and straight-back chairs. The decoration of the lobby area is eclectic to say the least.

All-in-all, it was a great time, and an uncommon place. I can’t wait to go back… I’m planning to see Xanadu. I’ve been told they really DO roller-skate on that itty-bitty stage. This I have to see!
You can find more photos from We Are Young on my Flickr page: District Theatre Set

Special Thanks to Vid James for the invite, and Tristan Tapscott for letting me have the "run" of the theater to take photos from many perspectives.