The Backstage Ballet

By Alex Kimmel

We are currently rehearsing our second show of the season, Souvenir by Stephen Temperley. This lovely two person show initially seems deceptively simple. However, from my perspective as the Assistant Stage Manager, it is full of challenges. I don’t want to give too much away, but there are some really fun costumes designed by the talented, Beth Goldenberg. Karen Murphy—the actress playing Florence Foster Jenkins —has eight grand costume quick changes that occur over six speedy pages of dialogue and singing amounting to about ten minutes of stage time. Many of the outfits are only on stage for a glorious but very brief minute. You may be asking yourself, “How on earth will Karen manage to completely change her outfit in thirty seconds eight times in a row?” The answer is a little stage magic performed by Kelsey (the costumes and wardrobe intern) and Susan (the costume shop manager), and A LOT of practice for Karen and myself backstage. Another fun challenge we are faced with is moving several set pieces—many of them heavy—with just two people, in a very short period of time, in the dark.

These are challenges that many productions face. The solution is usually found in practice. The technical transitions you see (or don’t see) are as tightly choreographed, fine tuned, and rehearsed with as much care as the performances given by the actors on stage. We are fast approaching tech week, which is the time when we really get to start rehearsing the technical elements of the play alongside the actor’s performances. This is my favorite part of the rehearsal process. The long hours, the hard work, the fact that we don’t see the light of day until Monday– all worth it! I am excited to choreograph the backstage ballet that is scene transitions and 30-second costume changes. That stage magic, which, if done correctly, will go unnoticed by the audience, is what I love most about my job.

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