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Sarasota News Leader CALLING CUES January 24, 2014 Page 83 THE 'COOL AUNT' She calls each cue in three parts: first, a "warn- Of all the roles required of a stage manager, ing"; soon after, a "standby"; then, seconds what are you best at, I asked. later, at the exact moment of execution, "Go." "Caring for individuals," she answered. "Spamalot has only a few hundred cues," "Handling all types of personalities. I'm Karen said, "but Thirty Nine Steps had a responsible for 16 people in this cast, three in four-person cast playing 150 characters." She the orchestra and three in the control booth, shuddered. "Imagine calling over 2,000 cues! plus others backstage — 27 people in all — for whom I play favorite aunt, nurse and techie." It's like a show within a show." THE BOOK She explained that from the outset of her three-week rehearsal period, she tries to set a humorous tone. "If someone forgets to sign in," she said, "I ask, 'Is Warren's understudy here?' He quickly obliges. In reality, there is no understudy for Warren." She smiled. "The actors tell me, 'You're like the cool aunt we want to hang out with.'" Most shows run smoothly because Karen has her prompt book — affectionately called the "Bible," which she never lets out of her sight. As she holds up her pencil, I notice the worn-down eraser. "This is all I ever need," she says. "Next to each line of the script, I write all sound and lighting cues, plus stage The "cool aunt" gets to go on vacation for eight directions —whether an actor speaks his line weeks at the end of the season. Last year, after from upstage, downstage or center stage as visiting her family in New Jersey, Karen went deemed by the director." on a medical mission in Swaziland, in South Africa, with representatives of Hearts Afire. CALAMITIES She counted out meds, helped with classes on "What could possibly go wrong during a pro- AIDS and read to children while they waited duction?" I asked. "Last night," she replied, to see a doctor. "a power surge in Act Two blew a fuse. After notifying Artistic Director Richard Hopkins, I "Did you resist the impulse to stage-manage on vacation?" I asked. "Yes!" she admitted. stopped the show." Then looking as if she were having a bad Just before curtain time, Kelli says a silent prayer for each actor's success and tells all the dream, Karen remembered a fuse blowing cast members, "Breathe and be awesome!" just minutes before the finale of Shotgun. Thinking the show was over, the audience Silently, I wished the same for her as she went members began applauding. She cued the backstage once again to perform her magical actors to continue reciting their lines. "Seven show-within-a-show. seconds later — a lifetime — the lights came Spamalot closes on Saturday, Jan. 25. back on," she explained. Then Kelli Karen will begin rehearsals The audience members, realizing what had for FST's Daddy Long Legs, which opens happened, applauded madly for the actors on Feb. 5. For more information, visit who had carried on during the blackout. %

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