It’s “Curtains” For Staples Players

When the curtain rises on  “Curtains” this Friday, audiences will enjoy another superb Staples Players production.

The show — a musical mystery comedy by Rupert Holmes, with music by Kander and Ebb (“Chicago,” “Cabaret”) — is clever. Contemporary, yet with a classic old-time, homage-to-musical-theater feel, it’s a play about putting on a play.

Nick Rossi, Chloe Manna and the “Curtains” dance ensemble. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Because a stage manager is one of the key cast members, it’s time to shine a spotlight on that often-overlooked — but crucially important — role.

Players — the professional-quality high school troupe — has earned rave reviews and national awards since its founding 61 years ago. But like any Broadway show, none of it would be possible without behind-the-scenes help.

At Staples, stage manager is an enormous responsibility. Joe Xiang — a senior who earned the post this year — coordinates multiple aspects of the show. Each day he huddles with directors David Roth and Kerry Long, producer Michele Wrubel and technical director Peter DiFranco to keep everyone — and everything – progressing well.

He works with vice president of tech Karalyn Hood to coordinate set, paints and light. He oversees all 100-plus lighting cues with lighting designer Ben Wolfe, Roth and Long.

Stage manager Joe Xiang at work. (Photo/Kerry Long)

“Curtains” includes three different scene drops. Over February, Players installed pulleys — a completely new element for Xiang, and one that he’s helping oversee too.

Next year, Xiang will take everything he’s learned with Players — people skills, task management, organization, critical thinking and more — as he studies business in college. Theater, though, will continue to be part of his life.

That’s certainly true for Michael Dodd. The 2017-18 stage manager is now a freshman at Duke University. But Roth asked him to help with this year’s set design.

Dodd took the drawing originally created by David Steltzer for Players’ first production of “Curtains” — in 2010 — and made them bigger and better. It was one more contribution from a stage manager — and one more way for Players to connect the past with the present, while providing an opportunity to learn everything possible about producing a first-rate show.

Four “generations” of Staples Players stage managers. From left: Joe Xiang (Staples High School Class of 2019), Jack Norman ’17, Michael Dodd ’18, Karalyn Hood ’20. (Photo/Kerry Long)

This weekend and next, audiences will roar for the actors. “Curtains” is a true ensemble show. It’s a whodunit filled with belly laughs, a catchy score and rousing old-Hollywood-meets-old-West dance numbers.

But none of it would be possible without Players’ stage managers. How great that that “role” will finally be noticed on stage.

(“Curtains” will be performed at Staples High School on Friday and Saturday, March 15, 16, 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m., with 3 p.m. matinees on Sunday, March 17 and Saturday, March 23. Click here for tickets. Tickets may also be available in the auditorium lobby 30 minutes prior to showtime.) 

9 responses to “It’s “Curtains” For Staples Players

  1. Jennifer Zorek-Pressman

    The stage managers work so hard and so many hours to make the shows (along with the actors) the amazing presentations that we see.

  2. Brandon Malin

    Stage managers play such a crucial role in the show process, from the very beginning to strike. I have had the honor of working with and being a spotlight operator for Jack (Working), Michael (Merrily We Roll Along), Joe (Legally Blonde, Curtains), and Karalyn (The Marvel Project), and each of them put in so much work and dedication into their jobs – no show would be possible without stage managers.

  3. Samantha Flint

    Great article! As a former Players stage manager (and now professional one) I love seeing that the traditions are continuing!

  4. Nina Streitfeld

    Congratulations to Joe Xiang and to all those who do a fantastic job of continuing to make the Staples Players great.

    Nina Streitfeld

  5. Richard Vogel

    Stage Manager is integral to a shows success. My Daughter was a Stage Manger in her NJ high school before we moved to Westport a couple of years ago. Since were here we have been to several Staples Players performances (and were going to this one Friday night). Who needs Broadway…This is truly the best entertainment for your buck you’ll ever find!

  6. Jane Schaefer Johngren

    May I just point out that the dates for the two matinees aren’t exactly correct, at least according to the order form. It should be SUNDAY, March 17 at 3 pm and SATURDAY, March 23 at 3 pm. It’s too bad, because I will be in the area on the weekend of the 22nd through the 24th, but already have a commitment on the 23rd. Great write-up, Dan, and congrats to all involved!