In three weeks, we’ll be presenting Stephen Sondheim’s Putting It Together at The Earlville Opera House. The dreams have started – where I’m onstage without a clue what to sing, the lights aren’t ready, and I’m in pajamas. (I hate pajamas, so that’s worse than being naked onstage.) Right on schedule.

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…

I read the contract. Among other things, it says the theater will own all of my work product once the show is done. Lighting plot, cue sheet, notes, whatever. And if they decide to change the date or the location, I’m still on the hook. And I need to let them know my location at all times prior to the show. And come to meetings whenever and wherever they are called. And if they cancel the show for any reason, I’m out of luck. And contractually, I can’t tell anyone about any of it. Seriously.