For one week before every opera, the office plays host to some very talented individuals. I sat down last week with one of these individuals, our Stage Manager for The Tales of Hoffmann, Kerry Masek.
This will be Kerry's first time stage managing this production; she has been stage managing for about 11 years and has worked with San Diego Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, and many others. She says that her favorite part of this production is the set.
"It's incredibly ingenious how it works. It's nonspecific enough to take the audience from Paris to Munich to Venice. It has a seamless feel that brings unity to a production that, in essence, is mostly taking place inside Hoffmann's mind."
So what does Kerry do? A lot! The Stage Manager (cleverly abbreviated "SM") - along with Assistant Stage Managers (ASMs) – learn every detail of the show. And I mean EVERY detail. When Stella finally makes her grand entrance? Check. When the lights focus on Olympia? Check. When Dapertutto has the diamond he promises to Giulietta? Check. The SM and ASMs are the people behind the scenes making sure everything's at the right place at the right time with the right person.
"Any time you see something happen on stage, it's because the stage manager said, 'go,'" said Kerry. That's a lot of pressure and can be an incredibly challenging job – especially with a show that has as much going on as this one. Fortunately, Kerry has Emily Murdoch and Lisa Kelly as Assistant Stage Managers to help. Emily is in charge of props and Lisa is in charge of costumes. These gals make sure everything's where it needs to be for rehearsals and performances – no easy task when you're talking about anything from a pair of spectacles to a 4-foot-wide robot's dress. The ASMs primarily work with artists and the technical crew to make sure things go smoothly.
So who wants to be a Stage Manager when they grow up?
"Anyone who loves making order out of chaos," laughed Kerry. "Seriously, it's great for someone who loves the arts. It's exciting to be the person who makes it all come together. You get to be a little creative, too – the director tells you what he wants and you figure out how to make it happen. Because each performance is different, you really have to think on your feet and make it the best possible show that you can."
Hope you enjoyed this peek backstage – see you on Thursday! (We'll talk with Assistant Director Kathleen Stakenas.)