This and That
Behind the Scenes, part 2
So, panto is very much a team effort and it requires a lot of people working in harmony to create a spectacular show. But who’s who and what are they doing?
On stage we have our venue stage manager. Tucked up on one side he is ready to leap in to action for the scene changes. He’s responsible for ensuring all the props and other set items are ready to go as well as changing the scenery background cloths. There’s a lot small and large items to get in to impossible places in an incredibly short space of time. The stage manager is responsible for flying things in and plugging things up and sometimes even squirting the cast. When the lights come back up, it’s likely he’s just ran into the wings and is trying to catch his breath, not that the audience should ever know!
Also on stage we have the company stage manager, who is calling the whole show. This year, it’s Joe from That’s Entertainment Productions. Joe is smack, bang in the middle of the action; everything goes through him and no one utters a word, or raises an eyebrow until he says so. Joe sits at the side of the stage with the show-bible, the stage managers script, which is annotated with Joe’s scribblings of what should happen when.
Our lighting operator triggers over 100 lighting states using over 100 different lights. He sits for hours deciding and recording these lighting states into the lighting desk so they look perfect for every show, and appear in time with the music. He also controls all the other visual effects; that big burst of smoke that appears when the baddie comes on stage is thanks to our lighting operator.
Complementing the lighting are two follow spots operated by two operators. These guys stand at the follow spots for each show and move the light to follow the cast around the stage. They need 100% concentration to anticipate where the actor is going next – it can be tricky when the actors start to improvise!
Finally we have the sound operators who trigger a vast selection of sound and video effects. They also listen to all the different sound sources for the show, including the musicians and the cast so that they can continuously adjust the quality so the audience get the best experience possible.
Each position in the team is essential and the tech team works together like a well-oiled machine. Each member of the team understands what everyone else is doing and are always there to offer each other support when things go wrong. Which, despite all our best intentions, they sometimes do! A great panto is made by a great team working together, from the actors on stage to the musicians, to the technical and front of house staff and Snow White promises to be one of our best pantos yet.