The first job I ever had on the ol’ Broadway was as a Production Assistant on the revival of My Fair Lady starring Richard Chamberlain.
As a PA I worked very closely with the Stage Managers and learned a ton about how shows are put together, how people are managed, and so on. If you are coming up in the biz, and get a chance to PA, take it.
I was lucky enough to get to PA a few shows, and eventually got promoted and ended up SMing myself, including a stint with Grease on Broadway with everyone from Rosie O’Donnell to Brooke Shields.
I learned a lot.
But you know what the biggest lesson was?
Stage Managing is one of the hardest jobs in the biz.
In fact, I hung up my headset, and decided to leave Stage Managing to the pros . . . like Pat Sosnow, who is this week’s star of our 10 Questions for a Broadway Pro! Pat has worked on a bunch of big-time Broadway shows including A Steady Rain with those two unknowns Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig, Promises, Promises . . . and the about-to-preview, How to Succeed with another unknown . . . Daniel Radcliffe.
1. What is your title?
2. What show/shows are you currently working on?
How to Succeed in Business…
3. In one sentence, describe your job.
I help run/manage the show on a day-to-day basis.
4. What skills are necessary for a person in your position?
Organizational skills. Ability to multi-task. Patience. Tenacity. Extreme sense of humor.
5. What kind of training did you go through to get to your position?
I have been stage managing since high school. I did not however, major in Theater at Barnard. I did study Psychology which has on occasion come in handy. I worked at any job I could get in any backstage (electrician, props, carpenter) until I started as a PA at the NY Shakespeare Festival. Worked my way through Off-Off-Broadway to Off-Broadway into Broadway.
6. What was your first job in theater?
My first big PA job was on Measure for Measure in the Park in 1985, directed by Joseph Papp.
7. Why do you think theater is important?
It is a form of entertainment that cannot exist without live participation from performers, an audience, and the people/crew who run the show. No show can ever be the same or be duplicated. In an age of Film, TV and computer generated entertainment, it forces live, visceral responses that are of the moment. Spontaneous laughter. Unexpected Heartbreak. Profound ennui. Live theater is a wonderful, real, living thing.
8. What is your profession’s greatest challenge today?
Maintaining a neutral position between Producers, Managers, Talent and the Unions
9. If you could change just one thing about the industry with the wave of a magic wand, what would it be?
I’d remove the caste system that has become so pervasive in recent years.
10. What advice would you give to someone who wanted to do what you do?
Don’t even consider working in the theater unless you are absolutely sure you cannot live without it.
_ _ _ _
Have an interest in Stage Managing? Listen to my one on one podcast with Broadway Stage Manager Peter Lawrence and hear his summary of what a Stage Manager actually does.
Get more knowledge about the industry, monthly newsletters and webinars, plus a Tip of the Week email, when you The TheaterMakers Studio today.