Our blog last heard from Meagan O’Neill when she kindly sat for an interview during the run of Stage Kiss. She’s back for An Antique Carol, and we’re so happy to hear more from this fabulous theatre technician.
Meagan has been working with Talking Horse since 2015. Her first show with us after moving to town from St. Louis was Reasons to be Pretty. Meagan was “quick to look for a local theatre to work with and am very happy that I was able to meet and now work with Ed.” She calls THP her “home away from home,” and with past credits including A Man of No Importance, Truffles and Nougat, The Last 5 Years, Mothers and Sons, Violet, Stage Kiss, and The Gin Game, it’s easy to see why!
Meagan’s “normal people job” is working for the Central Bank of Boone County at the Paris Road branch, and is sure that she has seen many Talking Horse patrons pass through daily.
What was the first theatrical event you remember seeing? What was memorable about it?
(Note: in her last interview, Meagan answered Peter Pan, so she’s fast-forwarding through her life to another formative moment.)
One that I will never forget was my freshman year of college. When Next To Normal was still a new smash hit, I went with one of my classes to see it at The Fox in STL. I had never really heard the music or knew much of the story line so learning everything while watching, for those that know the show, was a real emotional roller coaster. I remember the show was coming to an end and they were about to sing the "Hey #3/Perfect for You" and the notes were building and right before they sing they hit the top note and the bright blue lights shine because they characters meet. The song itself isn't sad, but that perfect timing of the notes and the lighting cue...I cried my eyes out. It ties so perfectly into how I stage manage shows now. I always want my cues to be as perfect as possible so the audiences that come to see my shows can have that same type of reaction. It’s theatre as a whole tech and actors that make the experience a beautiful one.
Have you ever worked on an opera before? How is it different from working with a musical or straight play?
I have worked for a couple of opera companies, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Opera Columbus, and they require much more detail in when anything is happening on stage. It is all about exact timings for entrances, exits, any and all cues. Opera as a whole focuses on the music and everything else adds to that. Working a straight play or musical has its flexibility. You can say oh 'so-and-so' comes in around this line or phrase of music whereas in opera you say 'so-and-so' comes in page 19 second system measure 2 on the second beat. And that is where that person will enter every time, no if ands or buts. You may think working of an opera can be a stressful time...well it is. But they pay off at the end, knowing you are the reason for this persons entrance, that light cue turning on and the music constantly moving forward...
What is your favorite thing about stage management?
I think you can tell by my last few posts that my favorite part of Stage Managing is the pay off in the end. When all the elements finally come together during Tech Week and you can see the magic appear on stage. I love when I work in spaces that allow me to watch the audience as the show goes on. Whether I am working on a hilarious comedy or a depressing tragedy I always love to watch the audience's reaction. They are what makes all this work worth it.
What should our audience know about what a stage manager does?
We are the super glue that holds the project together. We are the ones that file in the auditioners before the director. We are the ones that gather all the contact info from everyone involved on the production so there can be constant and clear communication. We are the ones that keep everyone and I mean EVERYONE on task. We are the first to arrive to every rehearsal and typically the very last ones to leave. I stay as late as I can to get as much done as I can because the 'normal person job' doesn't always allow me to do as I please during the day. We are the Directors left hand. Anything they need, we try our best to provide. Once we move into Tech week, then I become in charge. I call the times, I tell the actors when and where to be ready. I let my sound and light board ops know what cues need to happen where and anything else in-between. Once the show opens, it is mine. I take responsibility for anything that may jump the tracks and when an audience is watching, any entrance, and light or sound that occurs, I am the one making those happen. Stage managers are the people who hide in the shadows so others can shine.
What is your favorite non-theatre thing to do in CoMo?
Any time I am not working a show (rare, I know), I enjoy eating out at some of the well-known restaurants in town. I also enjoy the group activities like Paint the Town and Confetti Craft Co. And especially when it is nicer whether outside I enjoy hiking with my boyfriend.
What should our audience know about the arts community in town?
When I came to this town and wanted to find a theatre that I could work for I was welcomed with open arms by everyone I met. I see many of my actors that have been in shows together over the years and I am always surprised by the overwhelming team effort to bring Talking Horse's productions to life. This is a wonderful caring arts community and I am glad to be a part of it.
Versions of A Christmas Carol are traditional for families to view around the holidays all over America and the UK. What is your favorite holiday tradition from your childhood or more recently?
When I was younger I remember always going out to my grandma's house to bake all the Christmas goodies. That was usually the same time when relatives that lived far away were back home visiting too. It was always exciting to get off from school and then drive out to see everyone. Now that I am older and am one of the ones that live far away I get to be the one that comes home to hug everyone that I haven't seen in a few months so it is interesting to see how my younger cousins act similarly to me when I was there age.