ASK PLAYBILL.COM: Actors' Salaries & The Levels of Stage Management

By Robert Simonson
01 Aug 2010

Question: What is the difference between a production manager, a production stage manager and a stage manager? — Justin Kiska, Frederick, MD

There are many "managers" on a Broadway show — in addition to the ones mentioned above, there is a company manager and a general manager — and keeping them straight can be quite confusing for the outsider. The stage manager is perhaps the most critical to the daily functioning of the show. You'll find the stage manager in the wings backstage, standing in front of a lit lectern with earphones on, "calling" the show—that is, calling out each cue, of which there can be hundreds in a two-hour performance. The stage manager makes the trains run on time.

There can be assistant stage managers on a show, as well. Therefore, it becomes important to designate which stage manager in in charge. "Actors' Equity Association uses the term 'stage manager' in all of its contracts," explains Equity's Maria Somma, "differentiating only 'assistant stage managers.' The term 'production stage manager' is used industry-wide as a form of billing/credit. In practical use, a 'production stage manager' is the primary stage manager when there is more than one individual hired in this category."

"Stage Managers are an integral part of every theatrical production," Somma continued. "They coordinate all aspects of the production during rehearsals and performances and maintain the artistic integrity and intentions of the director and producer after opening."