I’ve been a bit slower with blog posts over the last few days. That’s because the dance company my wife performs with had their annual summer show the weekend just gone. The culmination of months of hard work by the dancers and crew.
Although my view is a touch biased. The Basingstoke Tapper’s shows look very professional (no small achievement for a community organisation); but then that is in part a reflection of the background of Tracey Kinchenton who runs the company and her husband John Deemer who handles the music side of things. Both Tracey & John have and continue to work in the entertainment business professionally.
My involvement is very much behind the scenes, acting as stage manager for the last couple of years. So it falls to me to learn the show and then on the show nights ensure that everything is where it should be and keep the rest of the crew informed of what is going and reminding them of their cues and any sudden other tasks that may need to be dealt with.
Then after the final night – there is the get out, which means helping breaking down all the staging, props, lighting which typically takes the full until 2 and 3 in the morning.
It may not sound very hard but the job is pretty physical before and after the shows. Then during the show it is noisy, hot and very stressful. You’ve got a headphone over one ear and a microphone attached to it (together know as a can) through which you’re trying to listen to questions and information being passed back and forth between the crew – over which the other microphones will be picking up the sound from the main auditorium. On top of that you’re stood a couple of feed from the stage monitors (speakers) for the entire duration of the show 2 or more hours of show. In the other ear you’re listening for the show director (Tracey Kinchenton) – just incase she needs to issue more requests or changes details of the show; plus listening out for the dancers as they prepare, enter and exit the stage beside you (and it can get very busy).
As this year the music was purely from backing tracks with live vocals rather than the usual live band or orchestra, you’re looking one way to watch the timers on the music sources so you know when things have got to end. You’re watching the stage to make sure that nothing is going wrong – straying props, children getting too close to the stage edge, pyrotechnics or lights. Not to mention keep track of all my cue notes.
To be honest – the largest sense of satisfaction comes from the release of pressure after the final night of the show. The feeling of relief is incredible once you’ve called for house lights to come up and you can ‘come off cans’ as they say and the show has run smoothly.
I have to say that from our point of view as punters out in the audience it was a great show. Certainly Beth’s parents who came along too were very impressed at the professionalism of the whole production. We’ll certainly be back next year!