It is probably just one of the many members of the crew working to make the magic of a show happen.
For the average attendee to a show at the Grand it is just that, a show. The curtain opens to a particular scene that is a key feature for the story about to unfold right before your eyes. What many do not realize is that to create those magical moments takes many hours of work and coordination by an army of stagehands.
A typical day of show starts at about 7 a.m. with as many as six semi-trucks filled to the brim with scenery, costumes, lighting and sound equipment lining up at the back of the theater to be unpacked and assembled by the production crew. The size of these crews can be as small as a handful of people who work most shows, all the way up to sixty or so people that travel from the surrounding area to tackle the immense task of turning a blank stage into a city street, living room or even a faraway jungle.
This is no easy task. In fact, it can seem like organized chaos. Trusses filled with lights are being hung from motors that are secured to steel beams eighty plus feet overhead all the while walls for a elegant ballroom are built right next to them. Costumes are carefully removed from the gondolas they travel from city to city in and placed in an exact location for optimum efficiency for the actors to change making the transition from one scene to the next well seamless.
The work to put the show together typically continues right up until the moment that the house is opened to let the audience into the theater.
Don’t you worry, the fun doesn’t stop then. Many of the same people that have worked feverously to construct what you see on the stage then transition into a new role. Spotlight operator, Wardrobe assistant, prop master, audio technician — just to name a few of the many positions that are required to make a show seem to just happen. Fast forward a couple of hours and the crowd rises to their feet to cheer the performers one final time.
For the patrons, all that is left is to head home wrapped in the glow of an amazing story that they were a part of. For the crew, the work ramps up to a fever pitch as the army of stagehands armed with trusty crescent wrenches begins to disassemble what they spent most of the day putting together.
Down come the lights, down come the walls, the speakers and the drops. Everything has a specific home, be it box or cart to ensure that the next morning, in the next town, it will all be right where it needs to be so that it can fit back together again.
For the people that make a living in production, days are long and the applause is for someone else. We get satisfaction in a job well done, and if you don’t notice us, we have done our job perfectly. So next time you see a show, remember that it takes many more people than just those onstage performing to create to the magic. In fact, I just might be the man behind the curtain that you never really see.
-Bob Mavity is the Senior Technical Director of The Grand Opera House