Thursday, April 1, 2010

Backstage Blog: ZACK'S GOT YOUR BACK

Brendan Lemon

David Zack is the production stage manager of the "Beauty and the Beast" tour, which means he's a point person for the day-to-day needs of the show's artists. As a boy, did he sit around dreaming about managing a group of creative people as they traversed the country?

"No," Zack confessed to me recently between Saturday shows in Waterbury, Connecticut. "I grew up in Los Angeles, but I never really thought of stage management as a career until college. I enjoy being around talented people, and my work allows me to do that. My job is to be sympathetic to people's needs, but at the same time to make sure the show is maintained at a high level."

Zack's job also requires him to "call" the show - direct a constant stream of cues at actors and tech people -- from offstage during a performance. Zack says that "Beauty" is not the most complex show he's ever called: "That would probably be the 'Blue Man Group' that I did in Vegas." With "Beauty," he continued, "there's probably never been a show where no problem arose during the course of a performance. But it's never been anything we haven't been able to solve right there and then. It's never been something an audience would notice."

Except for one two-year break, Zack has been working pretty steadily on tours for the past decade. "I like life on the road. It's a constant adventure, and I don't have to pay rent anywhere, which allows me to save some money."

Like all veterans of touring, Zack has compiled a list of favorite restaurants around the country. (Where to find food that isn't pizza or McDonald's is a constant preoccupation for everyone on the road.) One of his favorite eateries is Flying Saucer, in Nashville. (There are also Saucers throughout Texas, Tennessee, and the Carolinas.) "They have dozens of beers and something called the Bratzel, which is part bratwurst and part soft pretzel, covered in cheese." Zack added: "They're delicious, but not exactly low-cal. Lucky for me, unlike the actors I don't have to fit into a costume."


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