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Carousel Feb 10, 2012

by Tania Kupczak

When I was in 6th grade, I was so hyped to go see Les Miz at the Playhouse Theater in Cleveland. Looking back, I'm embarassed by my Broadway phase (as are so many of us) but there is one very clear image that remains with me from that production: Valjean and Javert in the sewer system. Of course, the stagecraft gem of that show was the rotating stage, which to my 12-year-old brain was genius beyond measure. In doing a little YouTube research, I just figured out that during the sewer scene, the stage is not actually turning, just some gobo lights of sewer grates pacing across the floor. Whatever. A turning stage was still the reason I was excited to be a stage hand for Mariano Pensotti's show here at OtB.

I'm not saying there's much of a comparison between this thoughtful, melancholy piece and the Boublil/Schönberg musical schlock, but technically, there's a level of proficiency worthy in Pensotti's play of the Broadway stage. So, since several other bloggers have already told you what happens in the performance, I'll tell you what's happening backstage. For 1 hour and 50 minutes, I and two others (Dani and Danny), along with Leandro, the company's stage manager, are hoisting furniture and props onto and off the stage as each quadrant moves out of the audience's sight lines. Everything is carefully organized backstage, grouped according to scene and frequency of appearance. We shuffle things on (quietly!), set them, and tiptoe off, avoiding the actors who also in motion around the back of the carousel. We follow a chart that looks like this:

Thanks to Leandro's amazing organizational system, it's not as chaotic as it might seem, but when the final turn of the stage comes around and we strike the last furniture (72 sweaty scenes later), the emptiness of each room is intensely satisfying, like the work has literally come full circle.

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