Stage manager organizes cast, designs lighting

Chronicle Staff

As hundreds of people file into Rugby Auditorium to see this year’s fall musical production of “Les Misérables,” Annie McGrath ’08 is backstage going over notes with the cast.

She mentally reviews hundreds of light cues, and as the clock hits 8 p.m., she slowly dims the house lights to start the show.

Although McGrath does not take part in the action on stage, she has been an integral part of almost every school theatrical production, working as a stage manager or assistant director.

As a stage manager, during rehearsals, McGrath does everything from organizing the cast to writing down blocking and taking notes.

During the shows she works with the technicians, calling light and sound cues.

She had been interested in theater since she was in elementary school but did not realize that students could work with directors behind the scenes.

It wasn’t until she saw a friend working backstage in eighth grade that she decided to try her hand at being stage manager.

“I’d always liked acting, but this seemed really fun and I wanted to try it out,” she said.  “I’ve come to love backstage even more.”

Since then, she has been one of the only people to be involved with almost every single show, including those performed in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Her favorites include “Metamorphoses” in fall 2005, which was her first upper school production.

“It was such an amazing cast and crew, plus there was a pool on stage,” she said. “It was so unique to be able to work with that.”

McGrath attends almost every rehearsal, working hand-in-hand with directors Ted Walch, Chris Moore and Michelle Spears.

This leaves her with very little time to be involved with other major activities.

Over the years, McGrath has learned to use the light and sound booth to create intricate sequences.

McGrath enjoys the challenge of working on the technicalities of a show:
“I really like when there’s a really complicated cue sequence that goes perfectly,”McGrath said.  “That’s literally the best feeling.”

McGrath is currently involved with the spring play, “You Can’t Take It With You” by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman.

She is really looking forward to the performances in February. “It’s going to be really fun,” she said.  “It’s about all these crazy characters, so the cast is really bonding.”

Although she is not sure yet if she wants to pursue a career in theater, McGrath hopes that she can continue stage managing for at least the next few years.

“I’m really trying to keep my options open,” she said.