Tyler Masters plays Dracula at rehearsal for "Dracula," Sept. 28, 2018. Photo by Bradley Wilson

Bradley Wilson

Stage Manager Emily Burns: the woman in charge

October 3, 2018

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

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

Theater junior Emily Burns has been involved with theater since her sophomore year of high school, and with the theater department’s production of Dracula opening on Oct. 4, Burns will have worked in stage management for 17 shows.

“Being a stage manager means that you’re the closest thing to a superhero in the world,” Burns said.

A stage manager is the person who helps run the show and is an important part of any theater production.

“A stage manager is the overseer of all things. You’re the only person that truly sees the show from the very beginning, to the very end. It’s all about protecting the artistic integrity,” Burns said.

While Burns has only been stage managing since the 10th grade, she first got into theater in the seventh grade doing acting.

“I was hooked,” she said.

But with the opening of Dracula Oct. 4, Burns takes a new role, stage manager of a mainstage production. Not assistant stage manager. Not associate stage manager. Not assistant to the stage manager. She’s The stage manager. And she could not be more content with this opportunity. Dracula is an extremely tech-heavy show, with a total of 155 lighting and sound cues during its 54-minute runtime.

“I really love when scripts get chaotic,” Burns said.

She said one of the greatest tools that helps her get through her days is coffee.

“Tech was on National Coffee Day which I think is extremely appropriate,” she said while drinking from a mug that said, “Given enough coffee I could rule the world.”

Though this is her first time being the woman in charge, Burns has previously been the assistant stage manager for three previous mainstage productions: Love’s Labour’s Lost, Luna Gale and Urinetown: The Musical.

She said while she does enjoy being the stage manager, it’s refreshing to see other people’s styles and techniques.

Something that she’s always wanted to try is being a production manager, a person who looks at the bigger picture and works with everyone involved in a company. The stage manager is involved with only the logistics of the show itself.

“Those duties overlap a lot, especially here. I’d love to actually intern as a production manager with a company,” Burns said.

One of the reasons Burns chose MSU was because they teach courses over all areas of technical theater. Students don’t go down one track. They have the opportunity to study various areas of theater, including scenic painting, scenic design, stage management, sound, lighting and many more areas, all things that interest Burns.

Doing theater in college helped Burns embrace the fact that theater was all she wanted to do in life. In the beginning of her sophomore year, she stopped thinking that she had to find another possible career, and put all her efforts into her art.

“It doesn’t matter how scary it is, I knew I could never love something the way that I love doing theater,” she said.

by Steven Dietz

  • Dates & Times:
    • Thursday to Saturday, Oct. 4, 5 and 6 at 7:30 p.m.
    • Sunday, Oct. 7 at 2:30 p.m.
    • Thursday and Friday, Oct. 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m.
    • Saturday, Oct. 13 at 2:30 p.m.
  • Location: Fain Fine Arts Center Theatre
  • Cast:
    • Dracula: Tyler Masters
    • Harker: Ian Kirkpatrick
    • Mina: Ilka Megee
    • Lucy: Nicole Smalls
    • Maid: Rebekah Gardner
    • Renfield: Christopher Cruz
    • Seward: Addrian Shonda Rhimes Gaut Jr.
    • Attendant 1: Emma Hart
    • Attendant 2: Callie Payne
    • Vixen 1: Nancy Vo
    • Vixen 2: Heather Monroe
    • Van Helsing: Hannah Kelley
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