Techie Talk

In blogs such as these we always hear a lot from the stars on the stage…but what about those behind the scenes, without whom the stars on the stage would be standing there, in their day clothes, in pitch black, with no mic and no set. Check back hear to hear the news and views from the techies!!!


Jon Arden – Wicked – Resident Stage Manager.

Our 1st Techie talk comes from the Resident Stage Manager at the Apollo Victoria, London – Jon Arden. The Apollo is currently home to the Olivier Audience Award – Wicked.

Jon has been working at the theatre for 8 years in in the role of Resident Stage Manager for 4 of those. When Jon was asked what his highlight has been in this role he said the first preview….

I was only a few months out of university and it was the first time I had experienced a West End opening night.

To get a good idea of what happens behind the scenes at Wicked Jon recommends checking out  Countdown to curtain up video.

If you are a one for numbers then next time you are at the Apollo have a look at the rig – there are over 1000 lamps in the lighting rig, including fairy lights. Jon adds that it’s not all lights and glamour and that sometimes a toilet needs unblocking!

I of course had to ask Jon about what has gone wrong in his time at Wicked and what they do to prevent the audience from noticing it.

The beauty of live theatre is that it’s live. Things go wrong however that is why there is a large tea of highly qualified professionals working tirelessly to ensure things don’t go wrong and that if they do the audience don’t notice. Of course sometimes things go wrong that the audience will notice and we have many contingencies in place to ensure the overall spectacle is effected as little as possible.

Those that have seen Wicked (is there many people left who haven’t) will recall the part when Dorothy runs behind a curtain – all you see is her silhouette. One back up in place is that the actress playing Dorothy is acutally dressed in full blue gingham Dorothy costume – just in case the curtain should fail!!

Jon explains that one of the defining moments of Wicked is when Elphaba flies and a quick google of “Elphaba doesn’t fly” will bring up many videos of this not happening. However this doesn’t show the contingencies that are in place to make sure the show stays consistent and that all angles are covered. Jon also says that contingencies aren’t all there for the audiences benefit and health and safety of performers and staff is paramount so there are also safety contingencies.

I always think the techies have a unique insight into other shows so I’m often keen to ask them about shows they would recommend seeing. Jon states that ‘Warhorse’ is an outstanding piece of theatre. Being a skater he also says that he would have loved to have worked on Starlight Express and this is his favorite show of all time.

Thanks to Jon for taking the time to answer my questions.

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