Most people think of theater and actors and actresses come to mind, but in reality, there is a whole other side of theater that only those involved with the nitty-gritty of production ever see. While their skills are different than the performers you see on stage, they are still an integral part of any performance. Here are a few roles that musical theater couldn’t happen without.
1. Stage Manager
Being a stage manager is one of the most stressful yet rewarding jobs in all of theater. While the stage manager is certainly busy during rehearsals, they really earn their pay on opening night and every performance after. Whether it’s a missed light cue, a missing track, or a sick actor, everything that goes on stage during the performance is their responsibility, which is why it requires a uniquely talented person to perform this job.
If that wasn’t enough, a stage manager is also responsible for how smooth the show runs. That means they have to be familiar with the script and blocking to ensure that actors are performing their roles as they were meant to, which is just one more important task for the stage manager to be responsible for. Despite the amount of stress, the stage managers are the ones to thank when a show runs smoothly, making this job as rewarding as it is stressful. So how do you become a stage manager? If you want to do this job you have to know all roles of a production, so to be qualified it usually requires a degree from a musical theater school. If you’re organized, detailed oriented, and love theater than this job could be for you.
The carpenter and their team may have a few different names, such as scenic construction or scenic painter, but their job is usually the same across the board, take directions and ideas from the set designer and make them a reality. On smaller productions, a carpenter may be responsible for everything from design and construction, but on larger ones, they usually have a team working for them who do the painting and assist in the construction.
If you want to be a carpenter, you don’t need a degree in theater, but you will need formal certifications and experience since people’s safety is in your hands. Plus, you’ll need a little imagination and patience. After all, Carpenters take on responsibility for the safety of the crew and performers who use their sets. Still, this a great job for anyone with love for working with their hands, building quality structures and sets.
3. Costume Designer
Depending on when a musical is set, a costume designer could be replicating the past, predicting the future, or creating a new reality entirely. In all productions, costume designers must have a clear idea of the plot of the piece and know how to translate it into clothing. With musicals, the costume designer must be especially considerate of the choreography actors and actresses may have to perform during musical numbers.
The job doesn’t end when the costumes are finished, the costume designer and their team are responsible for maintaining and repairing clothes during and between shows. This position relies strictly on skill and your portfolio more than most others. While training in fashion may accelerate your career, it is not entirely necessary to be a costume designer or a member of their team.
4. Musical Director
While the musical director has plenty of responsibilities during preproduction and rehearsals, like the stage manager, the musical director’s job kicks in once the show begins its run. Musical directors work with the stage manager to make sure that the show runs smoothly by being responsible for musical tracks as well as sound effects and cues.
In preproduction and rehearsals, they play a role in deciding who gets what part as well as technical decisions like which microphones to use. They also will often serve as the rehearsal pianist and conductor, coaching vocalists and fine tuning harmonies. During the actual performance, they manage the show and handle the problems that occur during and between shows. To be a musical director you must have love of all things music, but you must also be able to communicate clearly with people to ensure efficient work and successful shows.
Choreographers have one of the most difficult jobs in the production because their decisions have to be clear and agreeable with most other members of the production team. Whether it’s the pacing of a dance versus the pace of a scene, how far an actor or actress moves an across the stage and how to light them, or how to design a costume so that a certain movement is possible, the choreographers must be ready to work with people all across the production.
Most choreographers begin as dancers and after gaining experience begin to choreograph on a freelance basis. From there they can sign on with a company or continue to work as a freelancer, but no matter what they must have extensive knowledge of dance and musical theater. Plus, they must have patience and understanding since they may be working with professional dancers or first-time performers depending on the size of the production.