- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 16, 2014

SAN ANTONIO (AP) - A few years ago, Dave Morgan got a call from someone asking if he’d be interested in an assortment of oversize fake fruits and veggies. “I said, ‘Of course.’ Why wouldn’t I?” said Morgan, artistic coordinator for Magik Theatre in San Antonio. He was pretty sure he’d find a use for it. And he was right. An enormous strawberry and a giant banana both factored into Morgan’s elaborate set for last fall’s staging of “Willy Wonka.” The giant carrot, however, has yet to strut and fret its hour upon the stage. That’s show biz. Live theater - which, in San Antonio, includes Magik, Overtime Theater, The Playhouse San Antonio and Sheldon Vexler Theatre, among others - frequently requires all sorts of odd and everyday items to make shows come to life. So theater companies’ storage areas tend to be bursting at the seams with all sorts of stuff.

Magik, for example, has a spinning Texas made for “The History of the Great State of Texas Told in 45 Minutes”; a supersize tape dispenser from “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”; an assortment of planet cutouts and Rafaella Gabriela Sarsaparilla’s beloved aardvark from “Schoolhouse Rock”; a typewriter from “Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type”; and a bright red on/off switch that’s been in a slew of shows.

“We don’t have a lot of normal props,” Morgan said. “Most theaters have a lot of dishes; we don’t need that stuff.”

The Playhouse San Antonio does. In its packed prop room, shelves are filled with dishes that have been in all sorts of shows. There’s also a working lie detector machine that was used in “Betrayal,” an oversize turkey that appeared in multiple stagings of “A Christmas Carol,” dainty petit fours that Production Manager Ryan DeRoos made for “Drowsy Chaperone,” a flock of rubber chickens and a manila envelope labeled “tattoos.”

“We keep what we can,” DeRoos said.

At most theaters, whether a prop or set piece is kept or tossed after a show closes frequently has to do with whether it might be needed for another show, and whether it’s something that might be tough to find otherwise. But it also needs to be something that can be stored easily.

“It’s mostly size,” Morgan told the San Antonio Express-News (http://bit.ly/1eR4cHx ). “If it’s small, can we keep it? If it’s big, let’s throw it away.”

The Overtime Theater has pretty limited space. And the company lost some storage room when it left the Blue Star Arts Complex in 2012 for its current digs near the Pearl. So company members have to be selective about what they keep.

“Primarily, if it’s something that seems generic … that could realistically be used in a season or two, it’s kept,” said Chris Champlin, facility manager of the space. “Or, this is something that is unique and I’m going to kick myself in the ass for years if I don’t keep this.”

Among the treasures currently stashed away is a “Star Trek” Christmas wreath that has popped up in a number of holiday shows, the snake that appeared in “Clowntime Is Over” and a kitchen sink that has been featured in Aesthetic of Waste shows as well as other productions.

There also are a bunch of shutters that were part of the set for “DOA,” the noir musical the company produced in 2011; the shutters were not supposed to make the move from Blue Star, Champlin said, but they’ve been used in some shows since, so they remain on the premises.

On occasion, objects are kept for sentimental reasons. A big red heart with the Overtime’s name emblazoned across it hangs in the lobby right now. It was built for a gay pride parade, Champlin said, and “was too cool to discard.”

It’s fairly unlikely that the centaur body that The Playhouse’s DeRoos built for the 2011 production of “Xanadu” will be used again. But it’s still in the theater.

“We just haven’t gotten rid of it because it’s too dear to my heart,” she said. “This stuff is what I live for.”

At Magik, a bright green dragonfly hangs just outside the door to Morgan’s office. He made it in 2009 for a staging of “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” that was scrapped when the theater lost the rights.

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