April 19, 2011


I call this: theatre — Posted by KP @ 12:43 pm

So the Acting Company tour is finally over after 7 months. It’s a very strange feeling after so much time, several layoffs, and a vacation week, to think that this time it’s really, seriously over. When I compose an email and it auto-fills my signature as “Production Stage Manager — The Acting Company 2010-2011 Tour,” I erase it out of habit when dealing with other projects or non-work emails. Yesterday I came to the surprising realization that I am not the Production Stage Manager for the Acting Company tour anymore. Next year is unknown, but at any rate, the 2010-2011 tour is over and done with and no longer has a PSM. I am not under contract to anyone. It’s a bit scary, and also very liberating.

I have, however had a couple jobs.

Me and Miss Monroe

Last Monday, you may recall, I got two jobs on the same day. One was a single day of subbing for the ASM on a workshop of a new musical, called Me and Miss Monroe, which is, in very brief, about Marilyn Monroe (played by one of my favorite performers and past collaborators, Rachel York). The day I was there they were reviewing one of Rachel’s songs, then a big production number at the top of Act 2, and staging from the middle of Act 2 through the end of the play. So things were very much still in development.

John Rando is directing, and although I think his finished products are pretty brilliant, it was great to get just a glimpse of how ideas are born in rehearsal. As you may know, I grew up wanting to be a director of Broadway musicals, so it’s really interesting to me just to sit in a room with a Tony-winning director and watch him have a really smart idea, right in front of me. Just in the course of a pretty ordinary rehearsal, I could see why he’s as successful as he is. I wish I could have been there for weeks to watch the whole process.

My favorite part of the day was when they got to the new stuff in Act 2. It was a scene with three characters, that leads into a song for Marilyn. There’s some dialogue, and then a song. Something was just not quite right about it. I don’t know if it was the actors or John who suggested it first, but everybody felt it was a little bit odd how they’re talking and then Rachel sings this big song and the other two people just kind of sit there. “I feel like we should be talking here” was said, and that sparked an idea of maybe moving some of the dialogue from earlier in the scene into the middle of the song. The writers (Charles Leipart and William Goldstein) weren’t there, off in a small room with a piano re-working some other song (which always just excites me for some reason), so the actors, John and music director Eric Stern played around on their own moving the dialogue around like puzzle pieces and adding underscoring where necessary. It was immediately more engaging. When the writers came back, they were filled in on the idea, and everyone gathered around the piano to work out how it should go, with the script PA, Rob, standing among the group with his computer, documenting the changes. I’d say the whole process took about an hour-and-a-half, and at the end they had a scene and song that was so much better than what it was at the start, that someone watching the show would never imagine it could have been any other way.

It’s been a while since I’ve done a new musical, and my 7-hour-without-a-meal-break day, followed by racing downtown to call Comedy of Errors was the best day I’ve had in years. It reinforced my belief that trying to stay in New York working with good people, even if it means lower-paying jobs, is the right thing to do right now. In the near future I may need to do other things to pay the rent, but right now that day I got to spend in the room working with a bunch of people at the top of their profession, in the part of the business I really want to work in, was worth more than financial security.

I was offered a spot on the run crew for the workshop, but sadly had to turn it down because I was already committed to another new musical, a reading of a show called Trails.


This week I begin rehearsal for a reading, which is probably the first reading I’ve done in about 3 years. My feelings about readings are kind of ambivalent. They’re quite easy, and usually take no more than a week from start to finish. They pay almost nothing (though this one pays a little more than most), but they get you involved with producers, directors, writers, musical directors and actors who might be big Broadway people or future big Broadway people, and you get in on the ground level of a new musical, which positions you nicely if the show moves on to a bigger production. That’s paid off for me once, on a show called Twilight in Manchego, which was one of the featured shows at NYMF a few years back. Not that NYMF is the pinnacle of the American musical theatre, but I got to work with some well-known people, and I had a great time doing the show. Having done the reading definitely put me ahead of the curve during the very short rehearsal and tech process. Actually, as much as I swore I’d never do NYMF again, the two shows I’ve done stand out as major highlights of my career in terms of enjoyment of the creative process, because the festival usually attracts a surprisingly high calibre of people.

Anyway, about the reading. It’s been a while (since September, in fact) since I’ve started a new show, and although a reading is very simple, that initial process of pre-production where you make up a schedule and send it out to everybody, and get their conflicts and make sure everybody received your emails, is pretty much the same. Thankfully it’s a small cast (six), and a small creative team, so the volume of information is a bit less. It’s kind of exciting to be back in that part of the process again. It often means waking up to 20 emails, and having lots of conversations shooting back and forth from the actors and the creatives and producers all day long, but in some way that’s kind of fun. At least I’m home for it, so I’m not juggling it with something else.

I also got sick this week. I think this is pretty common for stage managers, maybe for others in the business, too. Your body knows you can’t be sick while on tour, so the moment you have a vacation or layoff, you immediately get sick. I literally got sick the morning of my first day post-contract. Woke up sick on my first day of freedom. Poor Meaghan got sick on all the vacations, which used to happen to me. I think my immune system must have evolved to a higher level that it waited until the tour was actually over. I did get the bronchitis that was going around the cast in October, just in time for tech. That sucked. But other than that I survived the entire tour with nothing more than a sore throat. Whatever I have right now isn’t bad, just an annoying sore throat and a slight headache, and probably a slight fever, but my thermometer is mysteriously broken. I am mostly concerned with making sure that it doesn’t affect my efficiency on this reading. It’s easy to let things slip through the cracks or get put off and then forgotten about when you’re not feeling well. OmniFocus is especially my friend here, as I can write down all my tasks and when they need to be completed, so even if I forget the urgency of something, I will be reminded.

So that’s my week, making the transition from a long-term job to getting up-and-running on a new short one.

April 11, 2011

The New York Run

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 7:19 pm

The tour is almost over. Actually the tour is over, except for the people who don’t live in New York. We finish our contract with a few weeks at home, performing our one-hour Romeo and Juliet at Baruch College, and The Comedy of Errors in its New York premiere at Pace University.

Last night was our official New York opening (we had one preview), which culminated in a wonderful party at South Street Seaport. It was lots of fun to have a formal party, at home where we could dress up in our fancy-clothes that we would never bother bringing on the road.

So far we’ve been performing at Pace for two days, and it’s been anything but uneventful.

Load-in was on Friday for a Saturday night show. We had a 5-hour rehearsal scheduled to check tech elements and spacing, and any other brush-ups we needed. One of our actors (one of the leads, actually) had been sick a week earlier and suddenly had no voice. We began our rehearsal not knowing if it might have to be converted to a put-in. Thankfully he was well enough to perform and the show ran perfectly, with great energy. It was actually one of the most feel-good performances I’ve had in my career.

The next morning, before our two-show day, I got the phone call I had feared the night before: our sick actor couldn’t go on. Emergency put-in! Stage management phone tree! Everything went really well, everyone was totally supportive, and while we delayed the curtain time by 6 minutes (which was well under what we assumed it would have to be), we ended up holding 12 minutes for the house anyway!

By evening our sick actor was rested enough to go on (and it was, after all, opening night), so the show went on as usual, again with great energy. Every show we’ve done so far has been totally adrenaline-fueled. I think it will probably (hopefully!) settle down this week, but there is something very fun about everyone having to spring into action to make the show go on.

Today is my last day off, and then we have seven shows this week. I just booked two jobs today — a reading next week, and a day of subbing for the ASM on a show in rehearsal tomorrow. Nothing that will pay the rent, but it’s only Monday, and I still have one more week of full-time employment. This is probably a good sign that my crazy plan to find work in town isn’t so bad, and I haven’t even been looking for a job yet. Honestly I expect to be unemployed and blow through all my savings in a few months. If I can do that while working with big-name musical theatre people, I will consider it a success. Finding work weeks hasn’t been my problem in recent years, it’s that I’m too far away from the people I want to keep and make connections with. I’m also looking forward to doing the types of jobs that I haven’t done in a few years, i.e. every other type of show besides summer stock and tours of Shakespeare.

When not at the theatre, I’ve just been enjoying being home. I think at some point I might continue my project from May of 2006, to furnish my apartment. But that goes back to the thing about blowing through my savings in a couple months. I think that should wait until I have a job, or at least have some massive windfall of subbing. But just adjusting to not treating my apartment like a hotel room has been fun.