By Naomi Lazar ’17
In the world of theater, there is an infamous period in a show’s production called “Hell Week.” If this name sounds a bit dramatic, it is. But then, we wouldn’t be in theater if we were not dramatic people. Tomorrow, Saturday, February 11, marks the first day of Hell Week for the cast and crew of Urinetown.
Hell Week refers to the week leading up to a show. It is a time when all the people who are part of the show–directors, designers, actors and backstage crew–come together to create the final product. The first component of this week is called Tech.
During Tech, we go through every moment in the show and add in light and sound cues. In a musical, this includes working with the orchestra. Because there are so many moving parts being integrated, it can take an excruciating amount of time to finish tech-ing one scene, let alone the entire show. However, it is crucial to work through all the kinks and get the timing just right.
This is why one of the most important people in the Tech process, or in my opinion the most important person, is the Stage Manager. The Stage Manager is in charge of calling every cue and making sure things happen how and when they are supposed to. And if something goes wrong, it is the Stage Manager’s job to get us all back on track. While the actors and designers have had time to improve their work, stage managers only get Hell Week to practice calling the cues.
So while Tech is a slow and arduous process for the actors, it is a fast-paced marathon for stage management. Urinetown‘s stage management team consists of students taking a course on stage management. They have been with us every step of the way, learning all the components of stage management–from writing down blocking, to giving actors line cues, to making sure all props, set pieces and actors are where they need to be.
They are the unseen, unsung heroes who tie everything together, and if they do their job well, the audience never even thinks of them. Stage managers keep a show going, orchestrate all of the moving pieces of a production, and make a show a success.