Now that we are nearing our halfway mark of the Musical season… all of us Burning Hills Singers, Coal Diggers, and our hosts, Bill and Emily, have definitely found our preshow routines. When we arrive on the hill for warm-ups, we know what to expect and what is expected of us. This is a comforting feeling. It’s like going to work and knowing exactly what to do, how to do it, and when to do it!
A few minutes before dance warm-ups, about half of us preset our quick-change costumes. I set two pair of boots, a hat, my 70’s costume and a water bottle stage left, on my way up the stairs. In the heat of the summer, we stretch on stage left where the shade is at 6:10pm. Candice is our dance captain and she leads us through a series of stretches. We have to cover the whole body, head to toes, to prevent injury and be “warm” to do the dance choreography required of us, for this nightly show, 100 in a row. We don’t have understudies… we need everyone, ALL the time. Sometimes we have notes to clean formations or specific dance moves. This keeps the show looking sharp.
Chad then leads us in vocal warm-ups for the same reasons: to prevent injury and be “warm” to cover the range of singing we do through the two hours of the show. Next Ryan checks our vocal microphones and the band mics and amps that are on the gazebo.
If you’ve listened to sound check from the top of the hill before the house opens, you will know that we sing “America” to check levels, because all mics are in use.
We listen for levels of band and voices in our monitors, the band listens for levels in their individual “in-ears” and Ryan, our sound engineer, listens for a balance of levels in the house. ALL must be set. Sound levels change nightly due to many factors including humidity, wind, and audience absorption of sound.
“The Hour Before Show”
After warm-ups and sound check, downstairs we go. The boys don’t have as much to prepare, so they have their own routines for the hour before show. Some visit with Lyle, Bill, Crew and Trail Riders. Some read or listen to music on their phones. Some visit the horses back stage. They visit us girls too. Some have exercise routines during the hour or phone calls to make. Many of the guys do a combination of all of these. As showtime approaches they check their costume presets and get into opening costumes, boots and hat.
The girls have quite a bit to do. As we keep ourselves on schedule, we visit about most topics under the sun! Most of the girls start their make-up before warm-ups and sound check. AFTER sound check, our curling irons and rollers are hot and ready to use. We all have our preference, but most of us use a combination of both. With different hair thickness and type, we figure out what works best for us. I spray each piece of hair with hairspray and then roll it up! When my head is full of rollers, I spray again. Next the make-up. Our order of application varies slightly, but here’s mine. Foundation, foundation powder, eye shadow (mix of dark, medium and highlight), eyebrow pencil, mascara, blush, liquid eye-liner, eyelashes on, lips, powder. Then I’ll usually use the bathroom and get dressed. Before I’m completely in my opening dress, I take my rollers out. After more hairspray, some shaping and bobby pins… on goes the hat! Then zip the dress, buckle the belt, gauntlets on (our cuffs), neckerchief on, a final swig of water, grab my microphone and I head upstairs to sing the National Anthem backstage. Right before I enter at top of show, I do a few final stretches to keep my legs as limber as I can. Then it’s SHOWTIME! Ken and I burst out of the old band shack building stage left and head down the steps to number 4… ready for the first moves of the night! YeeHaw!