Lindenwood senior embraces leadership role behind the curtain


Stage management senior Jenna Raithel prepares for a fight call during her senior project show “Macbeth” in the Lindenwood Theater that took place in September 2016.
Photo by Kelly Logan

When the curtain goes down at the end of a show, the performers get the standing ovation, and though they have earned it, the show wouldn’t have been possible without the people behind the scenes.
One of those people is the stage manager.

Jenna Raithel is a senior in stage management and has been working in theater for 12 years, six of which was in stage management specifically.

“I am the main source of communication between all facets of a production,” Raithel said. “[I] make sure everyone is on the same page.”

Raithel stage-managed Lindenwood’s production of “Macbeth” last fall, which was her senior project before she graduates in May. Before that, she has worked as a stage manager in “Violet” and “A Christmas Carol” of 2015 and a few other shows as an assistant stage manager.

Every play or musical has a stage manager who follows the show from pre-production to post-production.

Stacy Blackburn, the academic production manager at Lindenwood and head of the stage-manager program, said this is why great organizational skills are vital for students pursuing that profession.

Along with several different performance majors, Lindenwood also offers degrees in technical aspects of theater, including stage management.

Rachel Baugh, also a senior in the stage management program, is currently working on “Heathers,” the biggest academic musical of the spring. She said that though stage management is hard work, she loves her job.

“I really enjoy working with a show from start to finish,” she said. “Starting with design meetings, then being in the room as the show comes together and then putting everything together in tech.”

Aside from communicating between the many different teams collaborating on the production, Raithel’s other duties include assisting directors in rehearsal, handling the rehearsal schedule and giving the cues for the stage setup. She also keeps a close eye on performers during the show to ensure that they are staying true to the director’s vision.

“Whenever you see a light change or hear a sound cue happen, I am the person who told the light- or sound-board operator to do that,” Raithel said.

Raithel explained that though the job can be stressful, the saddest part about being a stage manager is when the job is over.

“Hopefully that ending just means I’m about to start on a new production and I get to do it all over again,” Raithel said.