As the Palace Theatre house lights went down Saturday night and Tony Marino stepped into the spotlight, he sang, “I woke up from a curious dream.”
How dreamlike the day must have been as Marino and his Stage Right theater company sought to break the Guinness record for the fastest staging of a musical production.
Fourteen and a half hours after learning that “Children of Eden” was to be the production, Marino and a cast of 96 were onstage performing it.
“I’m incredibly proud of the entire company,” Marino said Sunday. “Any company that undertakes that kind of production in that amount of time … internally, everybody worked together so beautifully and everybody supported one another.”
Marino said the Greensburg community also was critical to the record-breaking attempt — 150 people volunteered during the day and 500 people turned out for the performance at 8 p.m. as the countdown clock wound down to 00:00.
“The whole community rallied behind this,” he said.
Marino said there were two points during the day — 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. — that he knew the theater company was on track. One was when he had finished blocking Act 1, and the other was after rehearsing the full show.
“I thought, ‘We have three hours to fix any problems,’ ” he said.
Marino, who played the part of Father/God, said he was pleased with the performance and praised the cast and chorus for being able to memorize their lines so quickly.
“When you’re in a show in any capacity, things stick in your head,” he said. “We’re lucky that it was a show like ‘Children of Eden.’ Shows that are well-written are just easier to put in your head and keep in your head.”
“Children of Eden,” by Stephen Schwartz and John Caird, weaves a singular narrative out of the biblical stories of creation, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and Noah and the flood.
Most of the dialogue is sung by cast and chorus members who spend large amounts of time onstage.
Saturday night’s performance clocked in at just under three hours.
Among the chorus members was Emma Kate Angelo, 14, of Perryopolis, an eight-year Stage Right veteran.
“We’re really pushing it,” she said prior to Saturday night’s performance. “There’s not as much time for us to really develop a story, so we really have to stay focused on the story the whole time.”
Angelo said she’s used to rehearsing for three weeks before a performance — usually two hours a day.
Doing everything in 14½ hours was a stretch.
“We really have to stay focused and on-task at all times,” she said.
Avery Federico, 11, of Latrobe also was part of the chorus and spent most of the performance onstage.
“We’ve been working hard on all the choreography and all the words,” she said prior to showtime. “It’s just so much fun being part of it.”
The previous record
Stage Right was attempting to beat the previous record of 15 hours, set by the Sharpe Academy of Theatre Arts on Aug. 29, 2016, with a production of “Annie” at Watersmeet Theatre in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom.
Although Stage Right obtained the rights to “Children of Eden” ahead of time, no advance preparation was allowed.
The chosen production was revealed at 5:30 a.m. Saturday, at which point Stage Right officials immediately began working on set design.
“We literally drew it on a napkin at 5:45,” Marino said. By 1 p.m., the cast and ensemble were onstage rehearsing.
Nearly 100 people were involved with the actual performance onstage, not including the volunteers who served as timekeepers, witnesses, stagehands, costume and set designers, and orchestra members, said Tina Federico, Stage Right board president.
Marino said a package with documentary proof of the record-setting performance will be sent to Guinness in London this week. The theater company expects to receive confirmation within one to two weeks.
Proceeds from the show will go toward Stage Right’s summer camp scholarship fund.