Long before Jason Sherwood was asked to design the set for Fox’s upcoming “Rent: Live,” he was a fan of the show. He saw “Rent” on Broadway twice; once from the back of the mezzanine and once in the front row as a recipient of a $20 rush ticket. Both times he was “blown away by the energy exploding off the stage” and touched by the boundary-pushing musical. “As a gay person, this was the first show I'd ever seen where two people of the same sex sang a love song to each other,” he remembered, “That visibility and that kind of storytelling was handled so beautifully and so effortlessly.”Read More
I still love to act in shows, and I still love to stage manage, props, sound, being a Jack of all trades, if you will. But there is a lot of reward with being a lighting designer. After all, they’re the reason the audience can see what’s going on, and why the actors aren’t falling off the stage or in the orchestra pit.
So, if you’re interested in aspects of light designing, I highly recommend getting in touch with your community theatre. My local theatre Associate Artistic Director was gracious enough to spend time giving me classes based on light designing. I find joy in being able to find something I love doing, and showing people some fantastic work from that talent.Read More
Into the Woods.
One of my favorite shows of all time. When our theatre decided to do it, I knew I would audition, but before that I said I would be the properties designer. I knew the props would be a challenge, with Rapunzel’s wig and the harp and the million other things necessary for the show.
In volunteering for that position; however, I kind of forgot about one thing.
How the hell was I going to do the cow?Read More
The acting ability of the people I know and work with on a daily basis blows me away. I found myself watching Heathers and I thought “Wow, JD is a jerk” but then I almost immediately remembered: “oh right, that’s Bambi, he’s the nicest person ever!” Even as an assistant stage manager on The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, I would sometimes be listening to the final speech of our leading man (the title character, who is supposed to be like Hitler), I would have chills listening to him. But twenty minutes later, back in street clothes he was the nicest guy, giving everyone compliments about the performance.Read More
With theatre comes writing. You don’t have a story until someone starts writing one. I love writing, and I’ve always found it to be easier to put my feelings on to paper rather than try to articulate them. Some of the greatest stories ever are from books, movies, and theatre. I’ve always found the process of writing to be fascinating and such a complex concept. It’s something I know I will always be drawn to.Read More
Just like calling a show, taking down blocking is one of the most important tasks of a Stage Manager. I think if you were to split the role of a Stage Manager into two different phases, you would have the rehearsal process as part 1 and performance mode as part 2. In part 1, blocking notes are one of the most important aspects, while writing in cues and calling the show is the most important part during performances. This is why we have blocking scripts and calling scripts and keep them separate. Recording blocking notes quickly and efficiently as the director stages a show is something I have not fully mastered and is so incredibly challenging on many levels.Read More
Props to any show are as vital as the scenery, lighting, sound, and costumes. A prop to a show can be such an important aspect of the plot. In some cases, the storyline may even be about a prop. I’ve been a Props Master for a few shows and let me tell you, it’s not as easy as some may think. It’s definitely not just going out and buying a bunch of props on the list. It’s about finding and creating objects that are time appropriate and physically appealing to the eye and finding the best and most authentic props while staying within a budget. It should be treated like building the scenery for a show or designing costumes. It’s all about creation. Here are some tips of my own, taken from personal experience.Read More
In the artistic/creative industry, theatre is theatre in my opinion, but what many people fail to realize is that there are different levels/kinds of theatre in terms of community and professional companies. On a deeper level, there is absolutely no difference in the art itself. I think acting and even directing is the same on all levels of theatre and the methods of acting or the way directors direct are generally the same or are based on their own ways of doing things. It’s a personal choice of how you portray a character or the methods you take to get there, but in a technical sense, the process can differ depending on the company.Read More
What does it actually mean to “call a show?” To me, it’s an art or at least I treat it like one. It’s actually not the easiest thing to explain because of the many different elements that come into play, however, once you get the hang of it, it becomes a rhythm…..that is in most cases. In a nutshell, this is where the stage manager calls the lighting, sound and scene change cues (or whatever else) for a show. The cues control everything you see happening in a technical sense on stage.Read More
For scenic designer Edward Pierce, the biggest challenge of bringing the much-lauded London production of Tony Kushner’s “Angels In America” to Broadway was the sheer scale of the show. The two-part, eight-hour show has over 70 locations from the realistic (an apartment, a synagogue, a doctor’s office) to the fantastical (a hallucinogenic version of Antarctica and a version of the afterlife). The London production, helmed by Marianne Elliott and designed by Ian MacNeil, was housed in a cavernous theater with plenty of wing space, a luxury not afforded in New York’s Neil Simon Theatre. Luckily, this is just the kind of challenge Pierce specializes in.Read More
What does a Stage Manager do? It’s the hardest question I’m asked and one that people ask me almost every time I tell a person that I stage manage productions. I always struggle with where to start because there is literally so many aspects of the job. It is such a complex department of the theatre world and there is no single answer to the question. This is my approach and hopefully, I can offer some useful tips to all of you stage managers out there.Read More
When the average person thinks of a career within Broadway, they are most likely thinking about the actors and on-stage performers. The reality is that takes a team to build a hit Broadway show, and a lot of the needed creativity comes from the crew overseeing a show’s production. In the case of Clifford Schwartz, a veteran Production Supervisor and Stage Manager for a multitude of hit Broadway shows, he often spends years preparing for a show’s launch, long before an opening date has even been decided.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Schwartz about his past, present and future behind-the-scenes on Broadway. Schwartz’s current work schedule ought to simultaneously intrigue and puzzle the majority of Onstage Blog readers, as it not only shows how busy Disney keeps him, but also how much planning goes into what he does. Since our Q&A, Frozen has opened in New York, immediately reaching Top 10 Broadway sales status.Read More
Congratulations on selecting your shows! I know you considered the larger tech elements while in the selection process, but now that you've got your shows picked, it’s time to start looking at specifics. I have seen many cases where theatre companies didn't take into account everything they would need going into a production, and this inevitably leads to hair-tearing-out levels of stress for producers, directors, designers, stage managers, and potentially anyone else involved in the production.Read More
In my first Opening Doors column with Broadway producer Greg Nobile, he said something that really stuck with me: “The great news about being in theater is there's no formula for how you get there.” In this month’s edition, you’ll meet 24-year-old Dana Umble, whose unique path to working in stage management currently has her sailing all over the Caribbean. She is an entertainment floor technician for Carnival Cruise lines, a job which she’s had since graduating college at Quinnipiac University.Read More
The majority of theatres across the world are stunning spaces. No matter what their size, the way they are constructed and designed make them appeal to the masses – it’s part of what makes going to the theatre such a wonderful experience. Yes, seeing a great performance will be enjoyable no matter where you are or what your surroundings, but if you can see it in a gorgeous place with magnificent surroundings then it will be even further enhanced. The theatre isn’t just about the show, after all – it’s the entire experience combined from getting dressed up to go out to the theatre itself.
The following theatres are some of the most iconic and beautiful in the world. How many have you visited? How many are on your wish life? We love them all!Read More
The walls are up and painted. It looks the a real place, almost. The set décor designers now get to take over and do their magic. They take these painted walls with trim and turn it into a living room or a hospital or a front porch.Read More
It’s a line that a lot of us will at least vaguely recognize from The Wizard of Oz, and also one that can be quite apt to apply to those who work backstage on shows. Indeed, it can be said to be true that the less we see of them from the audience, the better they’re doing their job. And while this is certainly true in the setting of show night in the middle of a scene, maybe it’s time we started paying just a bit more attention to the people who help make sure that the show goes up every night.Read More
They never get to take a bow and be adored by the audience for all their hard work. They have a combination of saintly patience dispersed with the ability to complete 20-second interludes of chaotic frenzy doing very important things that are crucial to the success of a show. They spend hours on costumes, set design, building, painting, sound and lighting plots, changing lights, microphone batteries, standing in the dark and the list goes on…...and on.Read More
We all know the most central creative roles in any theatrical production. There is the playwright, who is the prime artist responsible for creating a show to produce. There is the director, who – after reading the script and interpreting it – creates his or her own unique vision for the show, and then is responsible for executing it. Finally, there are the actors, who bring the show to life through the characters – some of which may be vastly different from their real-life personas – that they each portray during the performance.Read More