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Artifact: Behind “Under the Sea”

Findings from the streets, files, and hard drives of New York.

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An excerpt from The Little Mermaid production stage manager Clifford Schwartz’s script. Below, Schwartz explains the fourteen reminders and cues he’s written on the page, which features the last three verses of “Under the Sea” and a line of dialogue. It takes one minute and three seconds to perform.


1. Making Sure the Guy in Charge of Heavy Flying Scenery Is Paying Attention (A/F):
That’s a note to get my fingers on the autofly switches. There’s an automation “fly guy” tech sitting 50 feet in the air, and when I hit the switch, his cue light lights up.

2. Crab Illumination (LTS 177.7):
LTS means I say “lights” and a number and a guy in the back hits a red button that executes it. Here, [huge talking crab] Sebastian moves downstage and the lights follow him. XUS and XDS means he moves upstage and downstage. LTS 177.5 lights the upstage area where the “waves” are. 178 and 179 turn the whole stage red on the word hot, then back to light-bluish.

3. Old-fashioned Ingenuity (A FLY 885, A FLY 886, DECK 586):
Pieces of smoked plastic, like shower doors, come down from about 30 feet above the stage to mask the wings so the audience won’t see the cast exiting. We call them “palace legs” because they’re also used for Prince Eric’s palace.

4. Basic Counting (Look +4, LTS 181):
We fade out everywhere except for the one alley of light upstage right where the cast is exiting. Look +4 means I look at my monitor, I count to four, and then I do the cue. You’re laughing, but this is what I do for a living.

5. Button (BUT):
Button means end. That’s the end of the song.

6. Conveying a More Octopus-Like Atmosphere (LTS 183, DECK 587, FLY 40): This is where we go from “Under the Sea” to a slithery Ursula octopus scene. We use greenish light and a “star drop,” a dark curtain with stars on it. “FLY” means a crew member is moving something by hand, as opposed to “A FLY,” which is automated.

7. Paying attention (COND NEW MUSIC):
That’s my cue to notice that the conductor starts new music. I’m so embarrassed.


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