McCarter Theatre: Backstage Tour
Posted by Dave Plucinsky on April 21st, 2009
On Saturday, March 28, McCarter donors were treated to a backstage tour of Twelfth Night. Very well conceived and presented, the tour added to the pleasure for those of us who witnessed the performance, and for the few on the tour who were yet to attend the show, the appetite was whetted.
The morning began with an introduction from Tom Muza, General Manager, who provided a brief history of McCarter and background on the production. The show was co-produced with the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC, where it originated and then moved to McCarter.
Tom handed the group to Alison Cote, the Production Stage Manager, who provided insight into how an elaborate staging appears so seamless to the audience. From her seat at a “tech table” set up in the house, she told us of the little tricks she uses to run the show, among them signal lights controlled from her panel. These cue musicians, actors and, frankly, just about everything that we take for granted. During the course of the show, Alison’s voice is audible throughout the backstage area but inaudible to the audience. What struck me most was the coordination involved in each performance. It is easy to assume the actors walk on stage and say their lines; clearly there is much more involved than simply memorizing and speaking words written on a page. I wish Alison had more time to speak, she was so fascinating and, I suspect, had more secrets to divulge, but time was of the essence and we moved onto the stage itself.