Homecoming musical performances: for the director, it means sitting back and enjoying his work; for performers, it means singing and dancing on the Benson stage for two hours. For the production stage manager senior Sarah Harris it means sitting in the box above nearly 4,000 audience members, calling the cues of the show.
While Harris has called light and sound cues before, this has been her first experience with production management. This is normally the job of Cindee Stockstill, the producer of theatre. Stockstill is currently in England with Harding University in England, so Harris was given the opportunity to work as the production stage manager for this year’s musical, “Singin’ in the Rain.”
Robin Miller, chairman of the theatre department, said that Harris’ future aspirations and past experiences with stage managing made her a good candidate to help produce the musical.
Stockstill said Harris’ personality also made her a good student for the job.
“She is very detail-oriented, thorough, with a good working knowledge of how to put on a large musical,” Stockstill said. “She is also blessed with good people skills to work with the production team, cast and crew.”
Because she is a part-time student, Harris said she had the chance to take on more responsibilities. These include attending production meetings, contacting different departments within the show, scheduling meetings and going over the call script, which holds various cues of the show.
Harris said she loves to use her organizational skills to work in theater, and the musical helps her to utilize her creativity even though it is backstage work.
“In some ways, people would see stage managing as not having a creative outlet because that’s all the director,” Harris said. “But sometimes you have to step in and say, ‘Actually, we really need to rethink this.'”
Harris had to channel that creativity when the production team had to figure out how senior Jon Andrew, who plays Don Lockwood, should go from a tap number to dancing in the rain without the water ruining the tap shoes.
Harris said that by working as the production stage manager, her admiration and respect for Stockstill has increased.
“I could feel like I’m taking her job, but I’m really not,” Harris said. “There is so much that only she does; whether it’s counseling people or making the leads take that extra step with their character, or encouraging the cast. This was never ‘I’m taking over her job.’ I’m just trying to fill the gaps while she’s away.”