Monday, January 08, 2007

My Favorite Stage Manager-isms

People, be nice to your stage managers. They can make late for your entrance, “forget” to place your props, or innocently miss the “go” for the spotlight during your solo. With a simple raised eyebrow they can make you feel lower than a toadstool. They can make a large group of grown adults feel like a class of misbehaving kindergarteners. They can give a complex to an actor or actress, a singer, dancer, diva or yes, even an evil baritone. I’ve seen egotistical tenors toss their diet cokes in a huff because the SM didn’t allow beverages backstage. I’ve witnessed diva’s worship the SM because of a quick fix to their ripped costume. In general, the SM rules, and they can make your life hell.

Sure, a director directs the show and gets all the credit, but the SM keeps record of ALL staging, and is usually the only one who remembers when the diva is supposed to cross downstage left during her aria. During production the Stage Manager is GOD.

Finding a good stage manager is hard. Getting a great stage manager is like Boise State skimming past Oklahoma State in the Fiesta bowl…slim chances but not impossible. I have had the pleasure of working with some fabulous stage managers.

Recently I wrapped up a holiday show with one of the best local stage managers in Portland, Jim Crino. Before the curtain the SM makes sure to give calls to let the performers/musicians know when we start. Crino has a very unique call process. Better late than never, I bring you the best of pre-curtain Crino-isms from Christmas of Swing:

“Two minutes…maybe three.”

“If I’m not back in five minutes, that’s your 20 minute call.”

"Did I call five yet? I did? Ok, make it five from now."

"We should have started ten minutes ago but they're still putting the walkers away"

“Why don’t we take our places.” (Not a question)

“Let’s call it five minutes. No wait! No, I’m sorry, let’s make it 5.”

(my favorite…It’s 1:30 pm for a 2 pm matinee. Our audience is 99% over 60 yrs old)
“The last [elderly] patron just parked in the lot. We should be able to begin by a quarter after.”

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