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Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, August 29, 1909, Image 29

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1909-08-29/ed-1/seq-29/

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STAGED B Y?
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r ?
ON" the first day of rehearsals for a new musical
comedy, the persons most concerned in its
success or failure rank about as follows:
MANAGER
AUTHOR AND COMPOSER
STAGE MANAGER
A w?ek passes, and at its close there is consider
able of a shake-up in the batting order, which now
reads thus:
STAGE MANAGER
MANAGER
AUTHOR AND COMPOSER
Another week; and then the make-up of the team
presents this appearance:
STAGE MANAGER
There is nobody else. The author, heart shat
tered, manuscript tattered, has gone far, far away.
The composer is engaged in telling to a sympathetic
company at the Lambs' or some Broadway chop
house what he thinks of Stage Managers in general
and this one in particular. The manager of the musi
cal comedy?the man who furnishes the money for
its production?is still by force of circumstances per
mitted about the theater where rehearsals are being
held; but he is now a chastened spirit and has
learned to speak in whispers.
At the end of the last week of rehearsals, the order
of the executive force has not changed, except that
the name of the Stage Manager may now be writ in
even larger letters. But by this time all signs of war
have vanished and the white dove of peace hovers
over the proceedings. True, the aforesaid dove
may be tethered to the spot; but he is there. By
this time the author, if he is sensible,?and there are
few authors into whom a modicum of sense cannot
be beaten in the course of a month,?has come to the
conclusion that the scenes and situations, lines and
lyrics, that he wrote for the piece were not much
good, after all, and that the Stage Manager knew ex
actly what he was doing when he cut them out. The
composer has reached a stajie in which he can listen
BY PAUL WEST
Drawing by Alonzo Kimball
to the interpolated numbers without squirming, and
when he hears one of his own that has by chance
been left in the score, he is inflated with delight and
thankfulness for such mercies. The manager is still
in the picture, silently, smilingly advancing salaries
to such of the company as may be O. K.'d by the
Stage Manager.
He Loathes Himself
fiUT by this time the Stage Manager has come to
shun himself with all the loathing in his being.
He despises his profession, and he hates the sound
of a piano or the sight of a dancing foot. He has
dyspepsia, his eyes are granulated and strabismic,
he is footsore, and he scarcely can speak above a
whisper.
But he is King! Ah, yes, he reigns supreme! He
is the Negus, the Grand Mogul, the Big and Little
Panjandrum, the Ahkoond, the Janitor,?everything
that suggests unlimited power and despotism rolled
into one great, awe inspiring title, STAGE MAN
AGER!
It has been a bitter fight,?a combat single handed
against such adversaries as Inattention, Insubordina
tion, Awkwardness, Stupidity, Favoritism, Insolence,
and Mental Deficiency,?yet it was a fight that he
must win, or?or the title he bears would be an empty
honor, a hollow mockery.
The Stage Manager's battle begins the day he is
engaged to "put the piece on." He meets the man
ager, the author, and the composer and goes through
the book and music. Of course, if he is an experi
enced, competent Stage Manager, he finds flaws in
the work; but he must not say so. That would
precipitate warfare, and it is not yet time for open
hostilities.
Probably the writers of the piece have ideas for
"business" for certain of the musical numbers.
Their ideas may be excellent; but here begins the
trouble.
"This number ought to be immense," says the
author. "Eight girls?the Ponies?dressed like
poodle dogs, and the eight showgirls leading them.
A little dance, with the ponies barking in time to the
music, you know."
"All right," says the Stage Manager, making a
note of suggestion. " What's next ?"
"Then there's a scene between the comedian and
the soubrette, and then the soubrette has a song.
It's a good little number, and with the eight Ponies
made up like country schoolgirls with big sunbon
nets, and schoolboys, it ought to go. You?"
" But doesn't it come pretty soon after the poodle
dog number?"
"Oh, yes, not more than three minutes between;
but they're quite different."
"Maybe. But how do you suppose you can get
the Ponies to change from poodle dogs to schoolgirls
and boys in three minutes?"
"Why?"
"You'll have either to put more dialogue in there
between the numbers, or shift their arrangement in
the act, or use different girls in them."
"Impossible! To change the arrangement would
spoil the continuity of the act. And we must have
the Ponies in both numbers."
"Oh, all right. I'll try to fix it up somehow."
The authors interpret this to mean that the Stage
Manager has agreed with their ideas, and are satis
fied. That is where they are wrong. The Stage
Manager observes that they are a little sensitive
about their work,?authors always are, at first!?
and that to argue with them would result in nothing
but trouble. He knows that sooner or later they will
admit that he is right; so he very quietly makes his
little notes as they go through the rest of the book
and score; but he says nothing, except by way of
praise.
Next comes the question of a company. The man

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