Jessie Cadle | Staff Writer
She has worked on Broadway and off. On musicals and plays. Most recently, she worked with Kevin Kline and Meryl Streep — who performed in Romeo and Juliet — at a benefit for the Public Theater in New York City. And in the fall, she will work on a Broadway remake of Golden Boy.
Though not onstage, freelance stage manager Jenn Rae Moore runs the show from behind the scenes. And despite Moore’s booming career in New York City, she returns annually to Chautauqua to serve as Chautauqua Theater Company’s production stage manager.
Besides Artistic Director Vivienne Benesch and Resident Director Ethan McSweeny, no one has been at CTC longer than Moore, McSweeny said.
“Viv and I live in fear of the day — and we know it will come — when she is too busy to come to Chautauqua,” he said. “I doubt most audiences realize just how much impact your stage manager has.”
Returning for her eighth summer at CTC, Moore is stage managing Fifty Ways and Muckrakers, and in the meantime tackles a host of other tasks ranging from organizing the schedule to helping hire the rest of the stage management staff.
At the most basic level, the stage manager serves as the show’s communication hub. Moore sits at every rehearsal and production, taking and sending notes from the rehearsal room to those not present, such as designers.
She also trains understudies, maintains the director’s vision when he or she is gone and “calls” the show.
“I am like the conductor,” Moore said. “I say when everything happens.”
When a light turns on, when a set piece moves, when a sound is emitted from the speakers, it was Moore who told the crew to do so. Such calls are made as often as every 30 seconds, depending on the show.
What makes Moore a stand-out is not merely her work ethic, but also her standards for her work, McSweeny said.
“She has ferociously high standards,” he said.
Moore is quick to add that though she makes the calls, it is her team that does the work backstage. Bales Karlin and Emily Glinick regularly act as her assistant stage managers both at Chautauqua and in New York City, though she met both through CTC.
Her team at Chautauqua also includes Jenny Kennedy, Bonnie Brady, Katie Stevens and Katie Chew.
“Everyone who is currently on my (professional) team, I met in Chautauqua,” Moore said. “What really keeps me coming back to Chautauqua are the people … We are a family.”
As a CTC senior staff member, she runs the company with six others. She chose to stage manage Fifty Ways and Muckrakers this summer, because she has a penchant for new work.
“I am also an artist, and I thrive being in the room, being part of the creative process. I need to be in the thick of it,” Moore said.
Though she enjoys the rigidity of her job’s organizational side, Moore loves the balance new work presents between the creative and the organizational.
Most of Moore’s professional career revolves around new work. She often works with Martha Clarke, an avant-garde dance and theater creator. Most of Clarke’s work Moore has worked on, such as a 2004 piece based on the life of Art Nouveau painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, starts simply with an idea.
“I just love being in the room really creating something,” Moore said.
This drive to new work led her to work on director Kate Fodor’s world premiere of Rx in New York City in February 2012, and now to CTC’s first world premiere of Fodor’s Fifty Ways.
“Kate is incredible,” Moore said. “Her words are just amazing.”
Looking back on her career as a stage manager, she cites a show from the fall as one of her favorites. The piece is called Blood and Gifts and ran at the Lincoln Center Theater, where she does much of her work.
The play is about the U.S. involvement with Afghanistan and Pakistan at the end of the Cold War. The story is told through the eyes of a CIA operative.
What Moore loved most about the play was the intellectual complexity and the closeness of the cast and crew.
She discovered the camaraderie of the stage when she was in high school. She and a few friends started a drama club for her theater-starved school. A singer at the time, she found she enjoyed putting the play together just as much.
She followed her passion for theater to Kalamazoo College in Michigan where she decided to study theater administration and discovered stage management.
“I thought, this is the perfect job. It’s very organized — you keep all of the balls rolling — but it’s also in the midst of the creative process,” she said.
After her first quarter in college, she began working in stage management, and she did an internship in New York City her sophomore year where she worked on the original production of Jeffrey, one of the first plays to ever deal with AIDS.
There, Moore learned what it meant to work professionally. She had to say goodbye to most nights, weekends and holidays, but she works best when busy.
“I do not do well idle,” she said. “I like being in the room and being immersed in the creative process, and I also like to organize it.”