BWW Interview: Behind the Magic of ALADDIN with Kate McDoniel at Dallas Summer Musicals
If you've never worked in a theatre you wouldn't know that the stage manager is the person running the whole show. Stage managers are your number one behind the scenes, they. National tour veteran Kate McDoniel has stage managed productions of La Cage aux Folles, Flashdance: the Musical and most recently Kinky Boots.
I took a moment to chat with Aladdin's touring stage manager, Kate McDoniel, to get the inside scoop on how the magic behind the scenes truly happens.
What would you say is your favorite aspect of working with Disney Theatrical?
"This is my first show working for Disney Theatrical and it has been a blast! My favorites are the support and the attention to detail. No other company is willing to go that extra mile. Fabrics come from all over the world and our crew comes in during work calls to make sure everything stays looking going great. As you're moving around the country things go on a truck and off a truck so you have to keep it looking good!"
Have there been any mishaps behind the scenes while on tour?
"We have a lot of checklists to make sure that everything is in its proper place. Every once in a while there's an act of God. During last Sunday's storm, we had to stop the show because there was a huge power surge in the building and all of our systems turned off. Everything came back on but we had to reset everything and make sure everything was working properly so that everybody could stay safe. That was pretty exciting."
How many people does it take to put Aladdin on its feet every night?
"We travel with a crew of twenty and then we pick up local crew members everywhere we go; so altogether with the crew, cast and the orchestra it takes 115 people to put on Aladdin every night."
What's the difference in touring with Aladdin versus staying at one venue?
"Every time we go to a new city we have to figure out where everything is going to go. Our onstage playing space stays the same but the backstage is a different shape. Here in Dallas, it gets a little bit narrow because of the way we had to get everything in so people have to be super aware backstage."
How long does it take to set up in a new venue?
"For the whole shebang it actually takes about 100 hours to load in. We get here a week in advanced and start loading in the structure over the stage and the stage floor itself. We bring all the pieces in on Monday night, get everything ready to go by Wednesday morning, we have a rehearsal and then a show that night."
What're some things both the tech crew and actors can enjoy together about being a part of this production?
"We get together and have events. We'll go out and play cornhole at whatever establishment or hang out at the pool at the hotel. Being on tour really brings the group together as a family. You don't get to choose who's there with you but you can enjoy everybody for what they bring to the table."
What's a challenge you didn't expect coming on to this production of Aladdin?
"The physical production is just so massive. It took me a while to really learn all the ins and outs of it all. We're really proud of taking care of everything and having a good understanding of where everybody is coming from. That was definitely a challenge. There are a lot of people and a lot to learn about."
What's your favorite part of the show?
"Oh, I love the number at the top of act two, Prince Ali. It's gorgeous, it's sumptuous, and there are 100 costume changes that take place in under a minute. Our ensemble is constantly changing because it's supposed to look like a massive parade but of course it's the same chorus men and women coming through in different costumes. We have the help of our wardrobe department, our local dressers, the actors themselves, and our hair department doing all these changes. It's really fantastic and such a great song - it's a lot of fun every night."`
Now is the perfect opportunity to grab a magic carpet ride down to Music Hall at Fair Park and watch these incredible crew members make magic behind the scenes. Aladdin at Dallas Summer Musicals continues through June 23. Tickets and more information can be found at www.dallassummermusicals.org. ASL performances will be on June 15 and June 22.