Monday, March 2, 2009

It's the best job in the world

by Anna Ashley, BFA 4/Stage Management (Stage Manager of URINETOWN)

Anna Ashley here, stage manager for URINETOWN. This is the eighth production I’ve worked on at TTS, it’s my final show here, and it’s a show that I’m thrilled to be a part of. As the stage manager, I’m in charge of facilitating all of the artistic and technical elements of the show. I make sure people know when they need to be places, and make sure changes are clearly communicated. In addition, my team and I maintain the rehearsal room, then organize the logistics of running the show once we move into the theatre. My fabulous assistant stage managers, Margaret Morton and Kelly Montgomery, will run everything that happens backstage during the show, and I will be calling light, sound, and fly cues. It’s a big job, and, in my opinion, it’s the best job in the world.

I began working on URINETOWN about 4 months ago. At that time, Dexter, the designers and I met bi-weekly or so and they would talk about the design concepts and ideas they had for taking this show and bringing it to life. And now, at the end of February, we have beautiful designs that can’t wait to be realized at the Reskin once we reach tech.

First rehearsal is always an exciting day. After these months of planning the aesthetic of the show, we finally have a cast – the big missing piece of the puzzle. It’s always refreshing to see them get so excited as the designers explain the world we’ve been creating – the world that the characters being portrayed by the cast are living in. They huddle around the model box that set designer Amy Gilman has marvelously crafted, excited to see where they’ll be dancing and singing for this show. Emily Maynard, costume designers, gives them a glimpse of who their characters are based on what they’ll be wearing, so they can all have some imagery of what this show is before diving into learning all the music, choreography, and their lines. It’s a wonderful first taste of the fully realized show. We don’t truly see that again until tech.

A typical first rehearsal will begin with introductions, various housekeeping things (making sure we have everyone’s correct e-mail address,) design presentations, and a read-thru. Well, because this is a musical, we couldn’t exactly read through the show, so after all of the presentations and business, Mark Elliott, music director, dove right in and began teaching them the opening of the show. And boy, do they sound good. We’ve got one week done. It’s a big, challenging show, and I have no doubt that it will be an incredible production.

Top left: Stage Manager Anna Ashley (far right) looks on with other members of the URINETOWN team during the first rehearsal.
Bottom right: Costume Designer Emily Maynard presents her costume renderings to the company.
Photos by Margaret Morton

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