During rehearsals and preparation for her spring musical, Man of La Mancha, Cherry Creek High School senior Amelia Mindlin-Leitner spent between 18 and 30 hours every week as stage manager, doing everything from attendance to blocking notes.
Stage management can be thankless work. Behind the scenes, they’re running the show, even if the audience can’t see.
“The Stage Manager is in charge of double checking that props are pre-set, opening the lobby and the house, and then of course calling the actual show,” Mindlin-Leitner said. Calling the show includes giving lighting and sound cues and managing everything backstage.
But this year, for the first time ever, the Bobby G Awards are recognizing Stage Management as a category alongside actors and designers. And Mindlin-Leitner is among the nominees, along with Espen Erling, Heritage High School; Belle Shand, Ponderosa High School; Chris Zigan, Riverdale Ridge High School; and Brooklyn Spengler, Vista PEAK Preparatory.
“I think that oftentimes Stage Management is a thankless job and people don’t know how hard they work. Being able to be considered for an award I think is well deserved,” Mindlin-Leitner said. “To be honest I was shocked to see my name on that list. There are so many amazing and talented Stage Managers out there in Colorado and I was honored to be considered one of them.”
Cherry Creek theater director Alex Burkart believes Mindlin-Leitner earned the nomination in part because “she never had an ‘it’s good enough’ attitude.” He believes recognizing stage managers with an award is greatly valuable.
“Stage Management (when done correctly) is one of the most important and difficult jobs in theater,” Burkart said. “It’s high stress, and you need a level head, and a considerable amount of knowledge in all things theater in order to execute and troubleshoot the performance…. It’s a highly influential position.”
Burkart says he has had friends take stage management into the real world and make successful careers out of it. But beyond that, he believes the skills that come from stage management in high school are useful beyond theater.
“Stage Management teaches you a lot of skills that are applicable to everyday life…you are a manager in this position,” Burkart said. “Staying organized, directing peers, maintaining professionalism and consistency are all skills that transfer to real world jobs and situations.”
Mindlin-Leitner echoed similar sentiments.
“[Stage management] really helps you grow as a person. It teaches you organizational skills, people skills, problem solving skills, leadership skills, and so much more,” she said. “Even if you decide that you don’t want to be an SM, you will come out of it improved and with a better perspective on life.”
But Mindlin-Leitner also emphasized that stage managers don’t walk alone. In fact, she believes that what ensured her own strong performance was the people around her.
“While I never will truly know why I was nominated, I think it was also in part because of the amazing people I was working with,” she said. “A team is only as strong as its weakest member (as the saying goes), and we had no weak members. I’m so proud of everyone who worked on that production, they improved my daily life and allowed me to grow as a Stage Manager in a place I felt comfortable.”