Who doesn't love a musical? Or at least who doesn't have an appreciation for the art of musicals? You get to leave your worries at the door and be immersed in a world where people sing and dance their hearts out about anything. I don't know about you, but that sounds awesome.
But I don't think many people know what happens behind the scenes of a production unless they have been a part of it. There is a lot of planning, re-planning, building, pulling, creative thinking, and then re-planning again. It's not easy, especially when performing in community theater.
For Equity (professional) Actors, directors, stage managers, etc., putting on shows is their job. They get paid to do it.
Community theater members don't. They do it because they love theater. They all have real jobs, go to school, stay at home with their kids, and then do shows on top of that.
However, the work is the same. It may not be as intense, but the responsibilities boil down t the same.
Community theater members essentially take on a second job when they are in a show, depending on the role they have agreed to; it could be for two weeks or even 18 months! All for the love of theater.
Let's take a look at some of the responsibilities and jobs that happen before the show even holds auditions, during the show, and who is doing these jobs for Junction City Little Theater's production of Guys and Dolls:
Director- The Director has chosen the show. They have figured out how much royalties are (musicals can range from $1,200 and up, depending on the popularity of the show, how many performances, how much you sell tickets for, and how big the venue is), created a production team that will assist in making the show, and have a vision they want to share with the community. They are in charge of bringing the show to life. They will direct the action in the scenes during rehearsal and make adjustments as needed. (Quincy McKinney)
Music Director/Orchestra Director- The music director is in charge of all things musical. They find the orchestra members and meet with the director and orchestra for cuts or changes in the music. They are responsible for teaching the actors their singing parts, and they conduct the orchestra during the shows. (Diana June and Ron Atkinson)
Choreographer- The Choreographer is responsible for the dancing, organized chaos, and anything else that needs to be 'choreographed.' They need to be flexible with the cast and the musicians because depending on the actors' skill level or the music's tempo, moves could need to change at the drop of a hat. (Patti Norgia)
Production Stage Manager- The Stage Manager keeps everyone in check and on schedule. They create the rehearsal schedule and adjust when needed because there can be 10-45 schedules to work around! They are in charge of the show starting tech week. They call sound cues, light cues, call actors to places...anything and everything. They are the grand central station of the show. (Brittany Childs-Lamb)
Assistant Stage Manager- This assistant is the SM's, right-hand man. They do everything the stage manager does but during the show run; they are in charge of all things backstage. While the stage manager is calling the show, the assistant is moving out scene pieces, helping with quick costume changes, flying scene pieces in or out, and putting out any fires that happen backstage. (Scarlett Reinecker-Bollig with Rebecca Crossman as Stage Left manager)
Stage Crew- This can be from 2-10 people depending on the set. They are responsible for quickly taking scene pieces in and off the stage so the show can continue. Scene changes can be compared to a dance. Everything has a way to go and a path to follow.
Set Design- The set designer sits down with the director to sketch how the director wants the set to look for each scene. Then it's up to them to figure out how to make it happen most cost-effectively. (Quincy McKinney)
Lighting Design- The lighting designer goes through the script to see what lights will be needed. They then sit with the stage manager and director and set the lighting cues for the production. The lighting designer will also run the light board in community theaters during the shows. (Kaye Fisher)
Costume Design- Costume design is precisely what you think; it's all about clothes! They are in charge of making the director's vision shine through the clothes. They need to get measurements for each cast member and then find or make costume pieces for all the characters. They help with quick changes, wash the costumes, and if there is a problem with a costume, they fix it before the next show. (Ellen Westerhaus)
Sound Design- Whether the show uses a live orchestra or pre-recorded music will determine how much the sound designer does. If there is a live orchestra, they are in charge of any extra sound cues and the microphones for the actors. If the show uses pre-recorded music, they will have sound cues for each song, and the scene will change the music and the actors' microphones. (McKenna Reinecker-Bollig)
Prop Design- Or the Prop Master is responsible for finding and gathering props for the show. Some shows have particular props, and you have to rent them or create them, and there is a very strict rule regarding props..."If it's not your prop, DO NO TOUCH IT!" (Ellen Westerhaus, Cast and the JCLT TATA Ladies)
Technical Director- As the name suggests, the technical director makes sure all the lights and sound equipment are working, and if any problem occurs, they are the ones to fix them. This can be an easy or a tough job. (Steve Seitz and Tim Avery with the Opera House)
Carpenters/Builders- Builders do precisely that. They are in charge of building the set, ensuring the measurements are correct and everything is in working order. (Quincy McKinney and Cast)
Painters- Painters paint the set. They make sure the color is what the director wants, and then they make sure everything is painted and ready by the time it's needed on the stage. (Quincy McKinney and cast)
That's a lot of jobs! One would even argue that they work harder than the actors on stage. We, as the audience, never see these people, but we do see their finished product.
So during the Curtain call, when the actor's gesture to the sound/lights and backstage area, give them an extra loud applause for the unsung theater heroes!