The stage management team on the set of CCM’s Seussical.
CCM’s imaginative take on the world of Dr. Seuss is presented in Seussical, which runs through Sunday, Oct. 29 in Patricia Corbett Theater. Audience members see classic Seuss tales presented on stage with dazzling color and imagery, but they don’t see the flurry of work that propels the performance backstage — guided by Seussical’s “unsung heroes,” the stage management team.
The team consists of five students: Stage Manager Sam Lewis, senior; Assistant Wallace Craig, senior; Assistant Justin Dudzik, senior; Assistant Mikaela Acton, junior; and Production Assistant Carson Trego, freshman. All are enrolled in CCM’s stage management program except for Dudzik, who studies lighting design at CCM.
“The students on the stage management team are the true unsung heroes of our production,” says Seussical Director Vince DeGeorge. “When you do a production that is so complicated and involves so many moving parts, the stage management team really has to work incredibly hard to make it all happen.”
Seussical’s staging includes an automated turntable at center stage, an automated ball drop, a flying swing, two trap doors, 119 props, 35 cast members and 53 crew members. The stage managers keep track of every prop, costume and set piece, and manage the entire cast and crew during rehearsals and performances.
Sam Lewis, Carson Trego and Seussical Musical Director Luke Flood during rehearsal.
They set up and run every rehearsal and performance — and clean up after.
Stage managers wear all black to blend in backstage, working behind-the-scenes in CCM’s recently renovated Patricia Corbett Theater. They communicate with each other via headsets to run all of the theatrical cues throughout Seussical, and are able to watch the show backstage on a TV monitor to see how it looks from the audience’s perspective. Their job is to ensure the show runs smoothly and that all of the theatrical elements are in place.
There are 14 “quick changes” in Seussical, where cast members must change costume backstage fast — sometimes they have to transform into an entirely different character in as little time as 50 seconds. The stage managers and crew strategically place props and costumes backstage for cast members to quickly access between musical numbers. As soon as the cast exits the stage, they are met with crew members who help fix make-up, wigs and assist with the quick costume changes.
One of the most challenging aspects of CCM’s Seussical was moving from the rehearsal space to the stage, says stage manager Sam Lewis. There are some theatrical elements, such as the automated turntable, ball drop and the trap doors, that couldn’t be used until the production was able to move into Patricia Corbett Theater. The stage managers met this challenge head-on, and even had fun figuring out how all of the elements could fit together on stage.
“We love It’s Possible because of all of the interesting challenges it has provided for us,” Lewis says. “From the six large fish on poles to the water fabric that has to release from the poles and be sucked into the stage through a trap door, it was a fun challenge to figure out.”
CCM students perform It’s Possible in Act I of Seussical. Photo by Mark Lyons.
The stage managers map out the performance details on paper, which includes a catalogue of every prop, set piece and costume as well as blocking.
“Managing the flow of so many moving things in a smaller backstage area takes a lot of planning and preparation to make sure that everyone is where they should be and when they need to be,” according to the stage management team.
Lewis says that the stage management team has learned much from Michele Kay, Chair of CCM Theatre Design and Production, and Steve Miller, Associate Director of Theatre operations at CCM.
“We’ve learned a lot about different management styles and how best to work with different types of directors and designers, which has been huge in this process,” Lewis says. “I think the main lesson we learned in class that has followed us to this show is that if you ever want to impress someone, just do your job to the best of your ability.”
Next time you sit in the audience, marveling at the spectacle on stage, take a moment to imagine the hard-working crew behind-the-scenes, who helped create the theatrical world presented around you.
You can see the impressive work that students, faculty and staff have put into Seussical in person at the next performance, which is at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 27.
Learn more about CCM’s Theatre Design and Production program at ccm.uc.edu/theatre/tdp.
Music by Stephen Flaherty
Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
Book by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty
Co-Conceived by Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty and Eric Idle
Based on the Works of Dr. Seuss
- 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27
- 2 and 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 28
- 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 29
Patricia Corbett Theater, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati
Tickets to Seussical are $31-35 for adults, $22-25 for non-UC students and $18-21 for UC students with a valid ID.
Student rush tickets will be sold one hour before each performance to non-UC students for $12 or $15, based on availability. UC students can receive one free student rush ticket with a valid ID, based on availability.
Tickets can be purchased in person at the CCM Box Office, over the telephone at 513-556-4183 or online at ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice/mainstage/seussical.
Customizable subscription packages are also available for CCM’s 2017-18 Mainstage Series.
Parking and Directions
Parking is available in the CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. Please visit uc.edu/parking for more information on parking rates.
For detailed maps and directions, please visit uc.edu/visitors. Additional parking is available off-campus at the U Square complex on Calhoun Street and other neighboring lots.
For directions to CCM Village, visit ccm.uc.edu/about/directions.
SEUSSICAL is presented through a special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. www.MTIShows.com
CCM Season Presenting Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation
Mainstage Season Production Sponsor: Macy’s
Musical Theatre Production Sponsor: Elizabeth C. B. & Paul G. Sittenfeld
Musical Theatre Performance Sponsor: Northwestern Mutual