This is my first year as the Producer for E’s school musical. It’s only my third year doing anything theatre related whatsoever. In this type of setting, the Producer requires no real talents or skill, just the ability to Organize and Manage on MASSIVE SCALES. I spend a lot of time on the phone and send up to 20 emails a day. AT LEAST. For the last week I’ve been staying up at rehearsals every night so that I can be the liason for the parents. Some nights I stay very busy, some nights I don’t have immediate tasks to do so I do whatever I can to help the real talent. I painted a chart for a prop. I’ve decorated cuffs for E’s costume. I’ve hot glued hats and I’ve made concessions signs.
In other words? I’m having the TIME OF MY LIFE. Amidst the chaos anyway. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned.
- You don’t have to be able to sew, to help costume. Costumes often involve as much hot glue as they do thread. And I am the TOTAL master of the hot glue gun.
- Don’t take ANYTHING OUT OF YOUR CAR until the show is over. During prep I’ve accumulated a lot of stuff in my car. Paint drop cloths, furniture, poster board, socks etc. Any time I’ve taken something out trying to “clean” I’ve needed it the next day. It’s like Murphy’s Law of Musical Production.
- Some quick changes are impossible. A “Quick Change” is when a performer needs to change in an impossible amount of time. I’ve seen these kids do them in 15-30 seconds with the help of several others stripping off clothes and putting others on. But it turns out? There is a limit. E had to get back into his Principle Costume (Potiphar) before he bowed at the end of the show. He was in his chorus costume. I counted one night and he had FOUR SECONDS. They tried several shows and even adding velcro to parts of his costume to ease it? IMPOSSIBLE. So he exits his chorus roll one reprise early. THANK GOD. I watched one night and he has to change right off stage (in the “wings” for those of you who know these things) and I saw him strip down clearly from the audience.
- If information is timely AND important, it is best to communicate it in MULTIPLE WAYS. Phone calls/voicemails seem the quickest/most dependable since so many only check their email once a day – but it turns out that is not the case. So, ALWAYS DO BOTH. People tend to get upset when they are missing key pieces of information. WHICH IS UNDERSTANDABLE.
- If you are a crier, expect non-stop tears once you get close to and during production. Every time I see these kids rehearse under full lights and in full costume, I cry. They’re just so amazing and they’ve worked so hard and I just CAN’T HELP IT.
- There is not enough coffee in the world, some days. Late nights. Early mornings. Jam-packed days between. Some days it’s just impossible to every feel…AWAKE.
If you’re local, I hope you come to the show. If you’re not – send as many good vibes as you can our way. Our first public performance is tomorrow night and the show runs two weekends. It’s an amazing (technicolor dreamcoat?) ride that I will be sad to see stop.