A Day in the Life of a Touring Children’s Theater Stage Manager

A Day in the Life of a Touring Children's Theater Stage Manager

A Day in the Life of a Touring Children’s Theater Stage Manager | brokeGIRLrich

My previous “day in the life” posts were so popular, I figured it was time to add the latest job to the list – a day in the life of a touring stage manager.

The thing about this job is that there were three very different kinds of days:

  • There were days off. Seriously, it was incredible. On average there was at least one day off every two weeks, although most of the time it was every week and at the end of the tour it was seriously like 50/50 days working versus days off. Clearly what we did on days off varied widely depending on what part of the country were in from hunting for the best BBQ in Texas to water parks in Florida.

As long as some of the work days were, it’s hard to complain when days off and travel days were filled with stops like these.

  • There were travel days where you just get in the van and drive. Fortunately we were limited by the legal driving hours for the 26’ box truck, which meant we rarely drove more than 12 hours in a day, since that required another driver and passenger from an entirely separate vehicle to meet up with the box truck and switch off. I’m actually pretty sure we only did that once.
  • And then there were work days.

So for the sake of this post, we’re going to do an average work day for a touring stage manager, keeping in mind that my experience was with children’s theater. Musicals and even straight adult plays have very different experiences when touring.

4:00 AM – Wake up. Yes, that really says 4:00 AM.

4:40 AM – Van call. Make sure all the cast are present, pile them into a van and drive to the theater.

5:00 AM – Load in starts. I stand onstage and tell local crew where to place each road case and box as it comes in.

7:30 AM – Focus lights. I stand onstage and tell the local crew where to point each lighting fixture. This takes about an hour and a half… on a good day.

9:00 AM – Break for Breakfast. At the beginning of the tour, I’d also usually catch up on emails for other upcoming venues during this break too.

10:00 AM – Show call. Check in with the House Manager about our general seating holds, intermission, photography policies, etc. Boot up the light board and do a final check. Make sure the cast are warming up.

11:00 AM – Open the house.

11:30 AM – Show Time

1:00 PM – Lunch

1:30 PM – Show call. Boot up light board. Check cast haven’t wandered off during lunch break.

2:30 PM – Open the house.

3:00 PM – Show Time

4:30 PM – Start load out.

6:30 PM – Finish load out and drive to next city.

9:30 PM – Check into new hotel. Promptly try to go to the last hotel’s room number or forget all room numbers altogether. Type up the show reports and email them out.

10:00 PM – Pass out and prepare to do it again the next day.

Dinosaur Train

Just another day at the office.

On particularly good days there would only be one show and it would be the later one in the afternoon so that we wouldn’t have to start load in until 8 AM or we could even have the morning off and load in the night before the show.

On particularly bad days, there would be a 3rd show on there and load out wouldn’t start until around 8:30 PM.

Not that I’m really complaining, this has actually been one of my favorite and more rewarding jobs. There’s nothing like the heartfelt “roar”s of a three-year-old boy or girl during the show to make 5 AM seem not so bad.

Interested in what some of those other “day in a life’s” looked like? You can check them out here:




8 thoughts on “A Day in the Life of a Touring Children’s Theater Stage Manager

    • They sure were! I really didn’t mind how long some of the days were, especially since they were really well balance most of the time on the this tour with time off. And honestly, after all those years on the cruise ship, travel days felt a lot like days off to me too.

  1. I’m impressed that you can get ready in just 40 minutes at that time of the morning before the van call! I would have no chance! What do you do during show time? Do you get to kick back and relax or are you watching out for the cast or any technical errors?

    Sounds like such a fun job, although it also seems like very hard work too!
    Hayley @ Disease Called Debt recently posted…Financially Savvy Saturdays #93My Profile

    • Yeah, actually, it was usually a pretty good week if we got to spend the night and do two days and there was one stop that was like a 4 day vacation in Vegas where we just did two or three shows a day but didn’t have to worry about all the other stuff except on the first and last day.

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