Call Time was soon and me and a couple others where in the auditorium getting ready. Julianna was preparing her bald cap and the makeup heads were starting on stage makeup. As stage manager I have to make sure things back stage are good and the show runs smoothly. I put my bag down by the stage manager's desk and get to work. I start with bringing out wigs for the actors. I bring them out of the costumes closet, comb them, cut off dead ends, braid them and set them aside for when the actors need them. The only wig that caused me problems was the 3ft long black wig for morticia addams. The wig needed constant maintenance and it was very difficult to keep neat. Other than that we had wigs for pugsley, wednesday and Grandma. After I set aside the wigs crops people show up and I ask them to mop the stage. The stage always has to be mopped about and hour to an hour and a half before the show. We mop the stage to get rid of dust and footprints that collect over the black floor.
It was now call time and actors were starting to show up and start their makeup. Because the guys can't do their own makeup and all the female actors were busy, I did makeup for the lead guys. Gomez, Mal, and Lucas. I prime, add foundation, powder, contour, eyebrows, mascara and then some setting spray. When they finish makeup I send them to get costumes on so they can then get mics. By now the stage is mopped so I can make sure the curtains are in their proper places. The curtains have to be placed so you can’t see into the wings during the show. The other stage managers have shown up and are helping out. Julia will be taking attendance and helping with costumes and Tim will be working things out with our director and tech. While I wait for the girls to finish their makeup and get costumes on I organize the wings backstage. I make sure props are where they belong and that set pieces are placed ready for set changes. This is also when I practice set changes with props people. We have to make sure set changes are fast and neat.
When the actors are ready for wigs I have them sit down as I pull the wig over their head. I then carefully pin the wigs to their real hair so the wig won’t fall off during the show. I keep the long wigs braided until open house so the wigs will stay nice until then. After wigs are on, actors get their mics and go to the stage for mic checks. The Chorus is almost done with their costumes/makeup and crops was starting to set up concessions, the ticket booth and programs.
Okay. Everything is set, main curtain is down, house music is on, ticket book is set, props are ready to hand out programs and actors are all mic checked. Time for open house. People start lining up for the show and I walk into the tech booth to grab my walkie. I don’t always have a walky for the show because we have 3 stage managers and a lot techies. When I’m up in the tech booth I’ll grab my walkie with its headset, wish the techies luck and grab myself a soda from their mini fridge. I head back down and meet with the other stage managers in the wings.
During this time actors are often warming up in the choir room while me and the stage managers sort things out backstage. We talking about some cues that tend to get a little rocky and we figure out who’s doing the curtains. Julia normally does curtains and helps with smaller jobs backstage. Tim will be calling all the cues for the show so the techies can stay on track. I help direct blackouts and set/prop changes. I also help make sure actors are quiet backstage and are where they need to be. Actors finish warm ups and come backstage. 5 minutes till curtain. I run into the pit to give the musicians a 5 minute heads up then I run into the argo to tell props. I also go make sure all actors are out of the choir room and are ready to go. Ok 2 minutes. I make sure actors are in their places, quiet and ready to go. House lights dim, the crowd quiets down. A senior will now go in front of the main curtain and make a speech about staying quiet and keeping phones off. They leave the stage and overture starts. I turn to Julia who’s ready to open the main curtain then turn to some actors and wish them a good show. The overture fades and curtains float open. The show starts.
Showtime. Tim has taken his spot on our backstage couch and has begun calling cues over the mic. Julia has taken a seat by the curtains so she can get a good view of the stage. I have a while till I need to do anything so I take a seat next to Tim. About 15 to 20 minutes pass and the first set change is in 4 pages. I run to the choir room to grab the props people I need. I’ll normally say something like, “I need two people for the first chaize set change in 3 pages.” Two people assigned to the specific set piece will follow me backstage and get by the set piece. I’ll tell them their cue and I’ll go on the other side of the stage. During the set change I have to tell Tim or tech when props people are off stage, the set is good and the actors are ready. The lights turn on, I tell props good job and we get ready for the next set change if there is one. Set changes often vary throughout the show. The easiest set changes are the small ones with long breaks inbetween. We also normally have one really big set change towards the end of the first act. But the worst set changes are the ones where we have multiple small set changes back to back. It can get confusing to manage and it’s frustrating when props didn’t learn their cues ahead of time.
During intermission actors have to stay back stage or in the choir room but crew is allowed to take a break and stretch. I’ll go in the argo say hi to some friends, check in with the props people working concessions and go backstage to get ready for act two. I’ll make sure set pieces are where they belong and props are where they go. After intermission The music will start and Julia will open the curtains. The second act is often more laid back than first so I just chill backstage till the show is over.
After the show I have to take wigs from actors before they destroy them. I put them back on styrofoam heads and put them in the closet. The director gives notes about the how and then we all start to clean up. I clean the wings a bit so I will have less work before tomorrows show. Actors take off their costumes and get ready for the after show activities. We normally go to Ihop after opening night and we have cast party after closing night. Months of rehearsal and stress for 4 or 5 shows. But it’s totally worth it.