Here's how Dock Street Theatre prepped its pit to fight floods ahead of Florence

Preserving the pit


  • Flickr user ajdoudt
Known as America's first theater, Dock Street Theatre first opened in 1736 with a performance of The Recruiting Officer, which follows the social and sexual exploits of two officers, naturally. The original building was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1740, and the Planter's Inn was built on that plot of land in 1809. After falling into disrepair, the building became a depression era works progress administration project and Dock Street Theatre reopened in 1937. While fire took the original building, the theater has withstood the test of time and all manner of inclement weather since 1809.

Sam Henderson, resident music director and director of music education at Charleston Stage — the theater company in residence at Dock Street, tells us that three years ago during the thousand year flood, the orchestra pit in the theater flooded. So, this year, he's prepared. Ahead of Florence, Henderson clued us in on how he helped prep Dock Street (and preserve the rest of Mamma Mia!'s run).
"The orchestra for Mamma Mia! is almost completely electric (4 keyboards, electric guitar, electric bass, and drums ... we also run five Mac Books and eight Samsung Galaxy tablets down there as well to get all of the genuine ABBA sounds that the crowds are enjoying so much). In fact, the drums are the only instrument that produce any actual sound in the pit … with the rest of us being piped through the house system. That being said, we have a lot of cables and electronics down there. I basically went and unplugged everything from the main power in case of surges or anything like that. We have a system of elevated platforms down there to get the musicians up closer to the action already, so I just had to move any cables, instruments, or equipment that were stored on the ground up onto those platforms.

The pit flooded slightly during the thousand year flood three years ago (the water actually seeped up through the floor from the ground beneath) but has since been sealed and has had no issues, so this is just a precaution so that we’re ready to get Mamma Mia! cranked back up again once the storm passes."

Stay tuned for more info on the rest of Mamma Mia!'s run and additional performances added after this week's cancellations.
Location Details Dock Street Theatre
135 Church St.
Charleston, SC
(843) 720-3968

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