Parlando: The COC Blog

11/4/2010

The Strawberry Crisis

The author Terry Pratchett, for his novel Maskerade, penned the following gem: "Opera happens because a large number of things amazingly fail to go wrong." And while our run of Death in Venice has been characterized by fantastic reviews and strong ticket sales, it is not immune to potential mishaps, this time in the form of a strawberry shortage.

One of our assistant stage managers, Tiffany Fraser, explains how strawberries are used on stage in this production:

"The Strawberry Seller in the show carries a basket of six quarts of strawberries. Five quarts are fake, and one is real. In Act I, she sells Aschenbach (Mr. Alan Oke) the real quart of strawberries, which he eats on stage while watching some dancers. Mr. Oke has been such a wonderful person to work with that I always try to get the nicest looking strawberries for him to eat, as if they are too mushy or tart he has no water to drink and is on stage for all of Act I.

There is also a small container on top of one of the fake quarts (invisible to the naked eye) for a real strawberry.  This comes into play in Act II when the Strawberry Seller returns. She feeds this lone strawberry to Aschenbach and he spits it into the water."

Tiffany usually picks the fresh strawberries up from a grocery store in Caledonia on her way in to work. The morning of Oct. 31, however, there were none to be found.

At first there was no cause for alarm—she figured that even if they were scarce in Caledonia, a city as large as Toronto would be sure to have some available somewhere.

The search, however, grew increasingly dire after Sobeys, Metro, and several other grocery stores turned up empty. A produce manager at Sobeys told her that a severe rainstorm had wiped out an entire crop. There was officially a shortage, and with the performance starting at 2 p.m., von Aschenbach risked going hungry. According to Tiffany, by this point she was starting to have "crazy thoughts about buying chocolate-covered strawberries and just taking the chocolate off."

Eventually her search took her to Richtree Market in Eaton Centre, where luckily they were preparing fruit salads and had a small bowl of strawberries in plain sight. After some negotiations, they were able to spare six strawberries for $4.99—"the cost of a fruit bowl." That works out to 83 cents per berry. For the final performances, in case the shortage continues, the concierge of the Hilton Hotel has offered to take care of our strawberry needs.

Photo: World's Largest Strawberry at Strawberry Point, Iowa. Via flickr user myklroventine


Posted by Cecily Carver / in 2010/2011 / comments (0) / permalink


Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001