This is the seventh in a series of interviews with some of our staff members, who have called the Lyric Theatre theatre home for a number of years, by Allison May :
Backstage at the Lyric Theatre you will find the crew room; a room that is full of tools from wall to wall. The Lyric Theatre’s crew workers are not often seen, as their work usually happens behind the stage curtains. But during The Marriage of Figaro, the curtains will remain open during intermission so the audience can see the crew behind the magic. Steve Cochran, James Corcoran, Ben Julius, Dan Pfitzner and Adam Tyrone reminisced on some of their favorite memories at the Lyric Theatre and on life as a member of the stage crew during a recent rehearsal.
“It’s rapid fire around here,” said James Corcoran. “This building never stops; it’s constantly working. Between the Kansas City Ballet, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City and the Kansas City Symphony, the Lyric Theatre has to be ready all of the time. This building is unique…so you have to really know the Lyric Theatre to make it work. I think the crew is what keeps this building running.”
“It’s always something new here, it’s always a new challenge,” Adam Tyrone said. Ben Harper added that one of their biggest challenges is their schedule. “When the real world has a day off, we’re working,” Harper said. “It’s not a nine to five type of job. And when we’re working during a production it is 45 minutes of calm and 15 minutes of chaos.”
Despite the long hours, the crew has had fun times together too. Dan Pfitzner recalled when the Lyric Opera was rehearsing for the production, Faust. “In the show, Faust is supposed to make a big appearance so we were using pyrotechnics. We were all waiting for our cues in the back with our fire extinguishers. According to the schedule, we still had eight minutes left. But we suddenly heard pyrotechnics start. Somehow, we didn’t know that the director cut out the overture – which happened to be exactly eight minutes long. So we had to run out with our fire extinguishers as fast as we could. Everyone was alright and we all laugh about it now,” Pfitzner said.
Steve Cochran says that it is a difficult job, but everyone stays here because they enjoy the work. “The part of my job I like the best is seeing the final result of the set,” Cochran said. “We initially receive the blueprint for the set and then we get to see the structure as it comes together.”
The Lyric Theatre itself is special for the crew as well. James Corcoran, Master Carpenter, has particularly close ties with the Lyric Theatre. “The Lyric Theatre has always been important in my life. I graduated high school here in 1972. I started working here in 1981. And I got married on the stage here in 1987,” Corcoran said. “My wife and I decided to get married at the Lyric Theatre because this is where we met. She was working as a Production Assistant here. I saw her walk across the stage and that was it – I just knew.”
Suddenly, the crew hears their cue and hurry out of the crew room. “These are the 15 minutes of chaos,” Harper says.