I was so sad that I couldn’t audition for a play this summer. With a family vacation and exchange students and bells concert it just didn’t seem possible. So, I volunteered to help backstage with Mary Poppins. Natalie was in the show and that way I could still be a part of the fun, but without all the weeks and weeks of rehearsals.
Being a cast manager was interesting. It’s a lot different to see a play from the wings, especially with a headset on. The first time I was on coms it was exciting and kind of fun, but also stressful. Anytime the director comes on and says “Cast manager, there’s a problem with….” it’s something I have to either take care of when that person comes off stage, or find someone who can take care of it. There were always 3 cast managers there each show, and we were in charge of managing the cast. Mostly, that means cueing people, helping with costume changes for the leads, making sure vital props for Mary are there, taking care of emergencies, and getting the vast amounts of kids to their places on time. I loved listening to all the cues that were going on (Cue scrim, cue track 110, parlor, go). So much goes into making a show look and sound good. If it were just the actors on the stage, the show would be so boring (and no one could see or hear them). I have a deepened respect for the stage crew!
On Saturday night I was on the headset again, and a few things didn’t go quite so well. Bert’s pants were rolled up funny at the cuff…fix that.
Why isn’t Winifred’s mic working well? See about that.
We seem to be missing a prop…find that.
Michael has No energy. Cast manager, talk to him about that, see if you can get him to be less distracted. Ugh. The little boy playing Michael is super cute, but he gets distracted. He says all his lines, and he has a lot, but sometimes he’s lacking in enthusiasm. So, when the kids came off stage, I said, “You guys need some ENERGY!” I gave them both jolly rancher candies I had in my pockets. Big mistake. I didn’t realize they were going right back on stage. Ugh!
Cast manager, did you talk to Michael about energy? Now he seems to have something in his mouth. I was so embarrassed, I didn’t admit my mistake right then, but you can bet as soon as that scene was over, I held out my had to them to spit that candy back out! I told the lead cast manager my mistake. “Oh, I’m in trouble,” I told her what i had done. “Oh, I gave them mints the other day and they did the same thing!”
That made me feel a tiny bit better, but I still felt so very stupid and guilty.
After a few more scenes, Jane comes off bleeding. “I’m bleeding all over my costume!” She panicked. I knew I had band-aids there at the desk, but in the dark I couldn’t get them open fast enough. I ripped a couple open and slapped them on her arm. It took three band-aids to cover up the bleeding part. She had injured herself earlier on a scateboard, and when she fell on stage (part of the dance), she opened that wound. Luckily, she only had one scene until intermission, when we could bandage her properly, clean the blood off the dress, and get her set. Just a little bit stressful.
That night, I felt SO bad about my mistake, but I felt worse about not fessing up to it. I should have just said something right away. I couldn’t go to sleep until I wrote an email explaining to the director my stupid mistake. She actually wrote back the next day and said she laughed when she read it, and not to worry about it. (Sigh of relief).
As my assignment was nearing completion, I breathed a sigh of relief. I would so much rather be ON the stage than behind it, but it was a good experience.