Sarah brought a striking reality to her key scenes. She introduced an element of danger, the sense that what was happening on stage had real consequences – something was at stake…I have to think others in the audience shared my sense – before everyone sung Happy Birthday during the bows, there was a subtle gasp from the audience when it was announced that Sarah was celebrating her 16th birthday.

An invisible show happens behind and underneath what the audience sees. Curtains fly, lights go up and down, sets move, all because of stagehands and technicians. The stage manager coordinates their activity prior to and during the performance. It requires a cool head, a wide understanding of theater craft, and comprehensive knowledge of the production.

I know and like many people who are union stagehands, and certainly I risk offending them by expressing some of these observations and opinions. But this is the bottom line: for as friendly and cooperative as many stagehands are, at the end of the day it’s difficult to look at the service provided and square it with the bill.

Some of the best moments in my theater career have happened at high school productions. In fact, a disproportionate number of those were courtesy of teenagers. I love the “aha” surprises, when a performer finds a spark and burns up the stage, bringing the audience to its feet. Now, imagine a show composed of nothing but those moments, and you’ll have an idea of what I worked on Saturday night…