All Hail the Stage Management!

“Places, please. Places, please for the top of Act One.”

Every theatre performance starts the same way- the script secretary calling the actors to the stage.

Like a ship without a rudder, no production can function without stage management. The Homestead Theatre Department is very fortunate to have one of the best in the business, Lonnae Hickman. Armed with nothing more than scripts and head sets, she insures each production runs smoothly.

The stage management is never seen by the audience, but their role is vital.

Their herculean labor begins before the show starts. They spend months working with the directors and crews. They must learn the script and prepare for the first rehearsal.  The first few weeks of rehearsal are usually held in the Black Box, a few steps from the theater. From the first moment of rehearsal the script secretary is responsible for everything on stage. Nothing happens without her notice.  She knows the script backward and forward. She knows not only the music, but also the libretto and the mood the director wants to convey.

The script secretary at her desk during Tech Week
The script secretary at her desk during Tech Week

As the musical moves through the rehearsal phase, the roles of script secretary and her helpers, the assistant directors, become very active. Their scripts fill with notes and colorful post its, which become the road map to a successful show. Each of those notes translates into an important action on stage.   Each movement, entrance, sound effects, lighting cue, fly call is flagged for action.

After months of preparation and weeks of rehearsal the musical moves to the theater. The final phase of rehearsal is called “tech week.”  The performers are on stage, working with the actual set. The script secretary’s duties expand as they continue to work with the director, stage crews and performers to fine tune cues and timing.

Once the musical moves into the theater the script secretary is radioed and miked to the props and scenic crews as well as the backstage overhead speakers. She is heard and obeyed by all.  The script secretary commands the deepest respect. With her calm cool voice, the script secretary and her staff cue each and every movement on the stage.

The Script Secretary typing her cues in as she sits next to the Director
The Script Secretary typing her cues in as she sits next to the Director

Not many audience members are aware of the dedicated team of people who create theatre out of the chaos. Without their unseen professionalism nothing would happen on stage. Hundreds of actors would not be given the cue to fill the stage. Pieces of scenery would not fly in and out of the scene. Lights would not come up or fade into an artificial twilight. The only reason any of these happen is become of the dedicated team of stage management.

And every theatrical performance ends the same way. A calm voice saying, “This is a two minute warning to the end of the show. Two minutes.”

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