By Ali Mignone, stage manager for Strings Music Festival
Although this stage manager’s point-of-view column only appears during the summer, Strings Music Festival is active year-round with a winter concert series and special shows for local schools in the spring. While it’s not the all-hands-on-deck, hold-onto-your-hats whirlwind schedule of the summer concert series, the off-season holds its own challenges—mainly in the form of managing snow removal and adventurous rodents and trying to keep the grand pianos from freaking out from weather changes.
One benefit of having shows year-round (beside continuing to be part of Steamboat’s lively music scene!) is that my prep work for the summer season isn’t nearly as time-consuming as it was the first year I joined the staff. It’s more like preparing for a seasonal rush than a total gear-up. I’m not one to do unnecessary work—you can say “lazy,” but I prefer “efficient”—so my off-season backstage routine is about maintaining order, systems and stock as I go, even if I’m only in the pavilion once a month.
This makes the beginning of June a lot more like “do I have what I need to support the musicians and crew for 10 weeks?” and a lot less like “what is that disgusting smell and where is it coming from?” or “how is it possible that this thing broke last year and I didn’t remember to get it fixed and now I need it for tomorrow?”
Right now, we’re stocking up on things that go fast backstage, like bottled water, musician snacks, coffee, black gaff tape, Advil and Band-Aids. The pianos already had their annual maintenance treatments, and the crew added new speakers and projectors last month. Here are few of the other things I’m attending to backstage between now and our first show (Clint Black!) on June 23:
- Organizing shelves
- Wiping down the fridges, tossing elderly food
- Adding shelving for instruments and coat hooks for musician belongings
- Donating shirts, ties and coats left in the closet from last year (you’d be surprised at how many male musicians leave clothing behind, and at how few female musicians do…)
- Fixing the funky door into the Green Room
- Checking for dead mice, weird smells, sticky places
Yes, thank you, my life is very glamorous.
Meanwhile, the administrative staff is:
- Finalizing housing and travel arrangements for visiting artists
- Putting the finishing touches on the program and arranging printing and delivery
- Selling tickets
- Finishing up artist contracts (Read: chasing musicians who forgot to sign and return them. Can you blame them? Music is a lot more interesting than paperwork.)
Just a few short weeks before the fun begins! Hope to see you at the pavilion this summer—I’ll be the one dressed in black wondering where the time went.