‘Urinetown’ stage managers keep show organized

While the actors parade around the “Urinetown” stage and memorize lines, songs and choreography, the stage managers spend hours on end reading over paperwork, gathering schedules and offering helping hands to wherever they are needed. Katie Cagle, stage manager and theater tech design senior, along side assistant stage managers Ron Harle, theater tech freshman, and Emily Burns, theater tech sophomore, rule behind the scenes with kind smiles and stern directions.

Katie Cagle makes announcements at the Jan. 28. 2018 rehearsal for “Urinetown.” Photo by Cortney Wood

Katie Cagle, stage manager

By Cortney Wood

Stage managers are “kind of like the moms on set,” Katie Cagle, stage manager and theater tech design senior, said.

“Oh, I must have cut my knuckle at some point in the day,” Christie Maturo, Urinetown director, said. “Katie, do you have a bandaid?”

“I do,” Cagle, said. “Do you want a regular sized one or a little knuckle one?”

Cagle passes Maturo the bandaid and finishes sifting through pages before she off-handedly picks up a water bottle on the ground as rehearsal begins.

With only 22 days until the political satire “Urinetown” opens, Cagle said rehearsal is like the “calm before the storm.”

“We have a cast of 20 people, which is a lot for a show here at MSU. In a musical there is music, singing and dancing which usually means more costumes,” Cagle said. “There is a lot more moving parts and crew members. It’s a bigger deal than a play.”

As Cagle manages her fifth show on campus, she said she is much more calm and confident with this show than she has been with other shows, and because this is her last show, Cagle said she’s able to find satisfaction in her work over the years through cast and self recognition.

“No one usually asks about the stage managers. We are just there. Everyone asks the actor and prop person questions, but the stage managers just sit. We do a lot of work, but it’s fine. You just have to accept the fact that we are never going to get a full congratulations or pat on the back for the work that we do. Even though the actors are going to get the praise and the applause, we know we helped the actors do their job. You have to sit off on the sides and know that you did a good job.

“Urinetown” opens Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m. in the Bea Wood theater in the Fain Fine Arts building.

Ron Harle, theater freshman, looks over notes and reads lines at the Jan. 28. 2018 rehearsal for “Urinetown.” Photo by Cortney Wood

Ron Harle, assistant stage manager

By Robin Reid

Noise begins to fill the room as the actors and actresses gather in the theater to begin the rehearsal for Act I of the school production of “Urinetown.”  Ron Harle, theater tech freshman, leans back in his seat as he reflects on his role as Assistant Stage Manager for the musical.

Harle said, “I’m a freshman, so I’ve done musicals before, but never at the college level. It’s very exciting to have this position and be able to experience it all from this side. It gives a new perspective, and it’s certain to give me a lot of cool experiences that I can take away and apply to other things.”

Being an assistant stage manager comes with a wide range of duties to ensure the rehearsal runs without flaws.

“My particular duties are to set up the speaker before every rehearsal and sweep the stage,” Harle said. “After rehearsal, I make sure the ghost light is out, which is a light in the middle of the stage so even when the whole theater is dark, people can still get around. During rehearsal, I can be called to do all manner of things from moving the piano, to fetching a chair for someone.  Whatever is needed for the show to run smoothly.”

Although “Urinetown” is a satirical comedy, Harle said he hopes people are able to learn something from the musical.

“’Urinetown’ is such a complex show and so many things can be analyzed from it. I hope every member of the audience can take away their own individual aspect of it,” Harle said. “It’s a great show and one I would definitely suggest coming to see. Every song is a whole different style, because it’s a satire on types of musicals, and it’s got a neat message to it about political corruption.”

Though people may think a  musical comes with its own challenges, Harle said he has still enjoyed the process, thus far.

“My favorite part of being an assistant stage manager for this show is the experience of it. It’s just really neat to be able to observe all the different steps from start to finish. It’s really neat to see everything come together,” Harle said.

Emily Burns, theater technical theater sophomore, jokes with Joey McGinn, theater junior, during workshop hours on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018 for the Urinetown set. Photo by Cortney Wood

Emily Burns, theater technical theater sophomore, jokes with Joey McGinn, theater junior, during workshop hours on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018 for the Urinetown set. Photo by Cortney Wood

Emily Burns, assistant stage manager

By Brendan Wynne

“Urinetown? Did I hear that right? Are you trying to say ‘You’re in town?” The off-putting title to the drought-ridden dystopian musical easily confuses audiences, much like the characters in the play while the cast and crew find themselves in as strange a position all asking one question: “What is ‘Urinetown?'”

But not Emily.

“I love this show” Emily Burns, technical theater sophomore and assistant stage manager, said. “It was actually the first show I ever stage-managed in high school.”

Burns said that while the material may be the same, the execution makes all the difference.

“It’s been vastly different than the one I did in high school,” she said. “I have a lot more experience going into it, as it was really overwhelming. The set is wildly different, and there’s so much more room for the dance numbers. I have come a long way since high school, so it’s really interesting to see myself back in Urinetown.”

Burns said while the experience may be different, her passion for the musical is as strong, and personal, as ever.

“I have an older brother whose autistic,” Burns said. “He doesn’t like to sit down and pay attention to things like plays, but this was one of the first shows he’s actually sat through. He loved it. He’s memorized all of the songs, so for him to be able to come and sing the songs again is really special to me.”

Burns first stage-managed a production in seventh grade, and has since stage-managed seven main stage productions, five studio productions and been an assistant stage manager “more times than [she] can count.”

With her average weekday spanning more than 16 hours, Burns said her duties extend far beyond the scheduled rehearsals.

“I have class from 8 a.m. — noon, I help put together the set until 5 p.m., we have rehearsal from 6:30 p.m. to approximately 10 p.m. and then I’m doing some kind of cleaning or painting,” she said. “Then we do it again the next day.”

Urinetown managers

Emily Burns, assistant stage manager, at the tryouts for Urinetown, Nov. 29, 2017. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Emily Burns, assistant stage manager, at the tryouts for Urinetown, Nov. 29, 2017. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Ron Harle at the tryouts for Urinetown, Nov. 29, 2017. Harle became the assistant stage manager. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Ron Harle at the tryouts for Urinetown, Nov. 29, 2017. Harle became the assistant stage manager. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Stage Manager Katie Cagle talks with Directors Christie Maturo and Dale Heidebrecht at callbacks for Urinetown. ©2017 Bradley Wilson
Stage Manager Katie Cagle talks with Directors Christie Maturo and Dale Heidebrecht at callbacks for Urinetown. ©2017 Bradley Wilson
Ron Harle, Katie and Emily Burns at the first rehearsal for Urinetown, Dec. 5, 2017. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Ron Harle, Katie and Emily Burns at the first rehearsal for Urinetown, Dec. 5, 2017. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Ron Harle, Katie and Emily Burns at the first rehearsal for Urinetown, Dec. 5, 2017. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Ron Harle, Katie and Emily Burns at the first rehearsal for Urinetown, Dec. 5, 2017. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Katie Cagle, stage manager, at the first rehearsal for Urinetown, Jan. 16, 2018. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Katie Cagle, stage manager, at the first rehearsal for Urinetown, Jan. 16, 2018. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Katie Cagle, stage manager, at the first rehearsal for Urinetown, Jan. 16, 2018. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Katie Cagle, stage manager, at the first rehearsal for Urinetown, Jan. 16, 2018. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Katie Cagle and Emily Burns at rehearsal for the Midwestern State University production of Urinetown. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Katie Cagle and Emily Burns at rehearsal for the Midwestern State University production of Urinetown. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Katie Cagle and Emily Burns at rehearsal for the Midwestern State University production of Urinetown. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Katie Cagle and Emily Burns at rehearsal for the Midwestern State University production of Urinetown. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Ron Harle joins the cast in waving at rehearsal for the Midwestern State University production of Urinetown. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Ron Harle joins the cast in waving at rehearsal for the Midwestern State University production of Urinetown. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Ron Harle does woodwork for a pices of the "Urinetown" set Jan. 26. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Ron Harle does woodwork for a pices of the "Urinetown" set Jan. 26. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Ron Harle does woodwork for a pices of the "Urinetown" set Jan. 26. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Ron Harle does woodwork for a pices of the "Urinetown" set Jan. 26. Photo by Bradley Wilson
at the Jan. 28. 2018 rehearsal for "Urinetown." Photo by Cortney Wood
at the Jan. 28. 2018 rehearsal for "Urinetown." Photo by Cortney Wood
at the Jan. 28. 2018 rehearsal for "Urinetown." Photo by Cortney Wood
at the Jan. 28. 2018 rehearsal for "Urinetown." Photo by Cortney Wood
at the Jan. 28. 2018 rehearsal for "Urinetown." Photo by Cortney Wood
at the Jan. 28. 2018 rehearsal for "Urinetown." Photo by Cortney Wood
at the Jan. 28. 2018 rehearsal for "Urinetown." Photo by Cortney Wood
at the Jan. 28. 2018 rehearsal for "Urinetown." Photo by Cortney Wood
at the Jan. 28. 2018 rehearsal for "Urinetown." Photo by Cortney Wood
at the Jan. 28. 2018 rehearsal for "Urinetown." Photo by Cortney Wood
at the Jan. 28. 2018 rehearsal for "Urinetown." Photo by Cortney Wood
at the Jan. 28. 2018 rehearsal for "Urinetown." Photo by Cortney Wood
Ron Harle, theater freshman, reads a line from his notebook to an actor in the Fain Fine Arts Auditorium Jan. 28, 2018 during rehearsal for "Urinetown." Photo by Robin Reid
Ron Harle, theater freshman, reads a line from his notebook to an actor in the Fain Fine Arts Auditorium Jan. 28, 2018 during rehearsal for "Urinetown." Photo by Robin Reid
Ron Harle and Seth Angelino, assistant master carpenter, work to get the set for "Urinetown" ready Jan. 30. Crew members worked from 1-5 p.m. every day and some evenings and weekends. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Ron Harle and Seth Angelino, assistant master carpenter, work to get the set for "Urinetown" ready Jan. 30. Crew members worked from 1-5 p.m. every day and some evenings and weekends. Photo by Bradley Wilson