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Backstage Pass

Backstage Pass
You've just seen the latest touring Broadway musical, and the show was so good you're humming the tunes on the way home. But suddenly you think to yourself, I wonder what the cast is like? What do they look like without stage makeup? And how do those tap dancers stay in shape?

These are exactly the kinds of questions that are answered during the Discover Broadway series at the Broward County Main Library. Presented by the library and the Florida Theatrical Association, the series features the casts and crews of touring productions who reveal behind-the-scenes techniques and share show-biz experiences. On Thursday, for example, you can meet the actors portraying Belle and Beast from Disney's Beauty and the Beast, which is running at the Broward Center For the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale.

When the studly dancers from Tap Dogs visited the library last year, the inquiring crowd wanted to know how exhausted they get during the physically demanding show. Sherry Lynch, assistant library communications director, recalls one of the dancers admitting that he was so tired during a rehearsal that he almost nodded off while perched on a ladder.

Lynch says she's picked up all sorts of interesting theater lore, and not just from the big stars. Understudies and backstage crew members also provide interesting perspectives. For example, when Cats was in town, the makeup folks showed how they hide tiny microphones in the hair of the performers. When someone asked how the actors keep their feline faces smudge-free, the audience member was told that powder is applied between each layer of kitty face-paint.

Beth Zickar, special projects coordinator for the library, says she was particularly interested in the sound and lighting operator from the show Full Gallop, starring Elizabeth Ashley. Zickar saw the production last year and was wondering about the maid, a character who's heard but doesn't appear on stage. The sound expert revealed that there was no actress -- at least not in person. Her lines were provided by a recorded voice.

"To people who enjoy the theater," says Lynch, "they now have a view of the theater they've never seen before."

-- Patti Roth

Discover Broadway will feature the stars from Disney's Beauty and the Beast at noon, Thursday, October 22, at the Broward County Main Library, 100 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale. The next installment, featuring the cast of Moon Over Buffalo, is scheduled for December 17. Admission is free. Call 954-357-7443.

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Patti Roth

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