Holiday Pops, held annually at the i wireless Center in Moline, IL, is always on the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving. It’s steeped in red, green, and glittery magic of the holiday season and showcases months of hardwork put in by local artists, both young and old, to learn that year’s repitoire. There’s also often a guest artist brought in; this year’s guest being Mark Wood, founder of the Transiberian Orchestra, and his 6-person band.
While others, like Artistic Director Stephen Jobman, have been working much of the year to put the concert up, the stage managers (one calling, one backstage) join the team a few weeks before and only really start working when the concert program and emcee’s script arrive in the inbox a few days before the event.
Arriving onsite the day of the event, it’s an exercise in taking in the information as it becomes available, asking questions when you can, anticipating what people will want and need, and being ready to do your job when your time comes. Because the stage manager is such a small part of the process for the overall event, it’s also a great exercise in advocating for what you need without getting in the way of others. For example, about thirty minutes prior to our first and only tech/dress rehearsal, I went back to the lighting and sound consoles to make sure headsets were set up. I found enough headsets for everyone but me and no space on the platforms for me to call from. No problem! It’s my job to make it work with what I have… as soon as I have what I need. I few quick requests to the IATSE crew there and I had a headset, a music stand, and a stand light set up beside the consoles (tucked in nicely beside some barricades). Working with what you have works surprisingly well!
So, although I will never be a fan of fastforwarding through my holidays, I love making the exception for this particular event because it is a great opportunity to stage manage in a manner completely different from what we normally get at the University of Iowa. And the people are great, very professional, and truly a pleasure to work with! Happy holidays from Holiday Pops (even if it is a little early)!
Post by LeeAnn Yeckley