A Crash Course in Life: What I Learned as an ASM

Insightful readers may note that the blog has been suspiciously inactive this past week. Allow me to explain. This past week was the opening of the 39th season of Upper Darby Summer Stage, a season that kicked off with “The Circle of Life”. Along with Rachel Medori, I was an ASM for this wonderful Disney revue. If you have read my past posts, you will be familiar with the role of the stage management team during this week. If you have not, allow me to give you a brief overview. An ASM, or assistant stage manager, is in charge backstage. They are responsible for overseeing set changes, prop movement, and keeping general order in the backstage area. Needless to say, show week is a very busy time for an ASM.

The past three weeks have flown by and I could not have had a better time.
The past three weeks have flown by and I could not have had a better time.

While my life may be jam packed from 9:00AM till 10:30PM, I have never had more fun than I have had these past three weeks.

About halfway through the rehearsal process, I realized just how much I enjoyed myself. “The Circle of Life” had one Saturday rehearsal to space dances on the stage. Because we knew everyone would be exhausted on a Saturday, it was decided that that day would be pajama day. While sitting on the stage in my pajamas, watching the opening video to  “The Circle of Life,” Gina Tomkowich, co-choreographer, leaned over to me. She whispered in my ear saying, “I can’t believe this our job.”

That really resonated with me. I can’t believe this is my job. I can’t believe that my job is to come into a theater and have the time of my life. I can’t believe I get to run the small errands staff members need. I can’t believe I get to be a part of the creative team, helping to put on a show that thousands of people will see.

"The Circle of Life" staff takes a break from rehearsal to snap a cute picture together.
“The Circle of Life” staff takes a break from rehearsal to snap a cute picture together.

Being an ASM has also opened my eyes to the world behind the staff table. It’s given me a new wave of respect for the creative team. You never know just how much work goes on before, after and during a rehearsal until you are a part of that process. I was at rehearsal 20 minutes early every day to set up and I stayed 20 minutes past to put everything away again. I was a witness to the amount of effort the choreographers, music directors and director put in to make sure the show looked and sounded the best it could. Now I take this same respect with me to “Shrek” rehearsals and beyond.

My schedule will begin to shift now that “The Circle of Life” is over. I will get a lot more sleep (hopefully), the blog will get new life, and “Shrek” will get memorized. Even though being an ASM is no longer a part of my daily routine, I know I will take the lessons I learned with me wherever I go. I’m more organized, more dedicated, and above all else I’m more appreciative. I cannot thank the staff of Summer Stage and the staff of “The Circle of Life” for welcoming me into their ranks and renewing my love of theater.

3 Responses to “A Crash Course in Life: What I Learned as an ASM”

  1. Kate deRiel

    Thanks, Chris, for this piece. It sounds exhausting and yet so much fun. Thank you for all your hard work in making the show come to life!!! Proud of you!!!!

    Reply
  2. Dave and Dottie hunter

    our grand daughter is very interested in joining(?) your troupe. What are the requirements for her to get involved in Summer Stage?

    thank you

    Reply

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