On the Front Lines

Stage Managers Hannah McGinn & Jocelyn Kline

Stage Managers Hannah McGinn & Jocelyn Kline

Hannah McGinn and Jocelyn Kline have front row seats for the making of The Music Man. As stage managers for the musical production, both juniors are required to attend every rehearsal. And like director Liz Hazlett, they know first hand the time and talent necessary to produce a show that a few thousand students and their families will pay to see.

From choreography to vocal, from costuming to stage construction, this dynamic duo are responsible for coordinating and supporting progress to ensure that the final product is flawless on opening night.

During the shows they can be found back stage guiding the crew and anticipating any problems that could arise. But both young ladies have experienced performing on stage as well.

Hannah began at Aston Elementary with the district-wide productions portraying a munchkin in the Wizard of Oz and in the ensemble for Seussical The Musical. Later she took on the role of Jack’s Mother in the Northley production of Into the Woods.

There she discovered how much she loved working with Liz Hazlett and decided that management was more rewarding than the spotlight on stage.

“These past two years I have stage managed Honk, Jr. and Guys and Dolls at Northley,” remembers Hannah. “It’s been an honor to work with Mrs. Hazlett. She creates the perfect balance between fun and business.”

And business is where Hannah just may end up as she considers her collegiate future.

Jocelyn experienced performing on stage at Northley in Into The Woods as well, but gravitated toward stage management during Sun Valley Variety Shows and the 2014 production of Oklahoma. The opportunity to stage manage The Music Man seemed a natural progression:

“I still don’t know what I love more: being on stage, or backstage,” observes Jocelyn. “They are both so much fun and really interest me with the idea of how much effort goes into making a production.”

Hannah concurs: “As a stage manager, we have many responsibilities leading up to the show as well as keeping order backstage during the show. Being backstage is such a different experience than performing in or watching a show.”

But the young ladies do get to watch every step of stage building, vocal training, blocking and choreography too.

“I am so lucky to be working with such a talented group of people,” says Hannah. “I especially love watching Jaquetta teach choreography. It’s almost too entertaining! I also enjoy watching our costume designer work her magic. There are so many people involved in this show that deserve recognition for all of their hard work.”

Jocelyn agrees: “One of the things that I like about it is set building.
I think it is so cool how a lot of the set pieces are built from objects off of previous shows. Like the house for The Music Man is the same house from Oklahoma last year.”

While watching is part of the experience, so is doing. Time management, communication, and helping the director corral and lead performers under stressful situations can get difficult. Both managers have found a good balance between being fellow students and future leaders. And both young leaders see the value of the time they are spending producing this show. As does their director:

“Any director will tell you that good stage managers are the backbone of the production,” says director Liz Hazlett. “Their role may be behind the scenes, but it is essential to the success of the whole thing. I am able to focus so much more of my time and energy on artistic aspects of the production and working with the cast because Jocelyn and Hannah take care of literally anything I throw their way.”

And that’s what makes the experience even more rewarding, believes Hannah: “I have learned so many skills that will guide me as I enter higher education and the workforce,” explains Hannah. “Stage managing has improved my ability to manage people and has enhanced my communication skills.”

And Jocelyn has found some comic relief in the process: “I just got a retainer this year so I get a lot of funny looks (with my) dramatic lisping while telling people what to do. I’m not taken as seriously as I should be, but oh well,” she laughs.

As opening approaches, Hannah looks forward to the moment she raises the curtain.

“Opening night is chaotic and exciting. Afterwards, the cast and crew’s confidence levels instantly boost because they know that they are capable of executing an amazing performance.”

Jocelyn, who aspires to be a Vetinarian some day, may not miss rushing from rehearsals to take care of the horse she rides, but she will miss the camaraderie that the production offers:

“I love the connection and bond formed between the cast over the weeks of rehearsal. Although tedious at times, it always turns out to be a great production in the end.”

Hannah too, will miss many of the upper classmen she has had the pleasure of working with for so long:

“This is truly a talented group of people and I will be heartbroken to see the seniors go, but wish them the best of luck in the future! ”

But there is always next year, and Hannah is already putting in her bid: ”
“I’d love to see Sun Valley do Cinderella next year. Either that or Lion King!”