Junior takes on stage managing role

KJ Preston Pepperell works to keep spring play organized


Muna Ali

Junior KJ Preston Pepperell was a stage manager for the spring play, “The Philadelphia Story.” There were two other stage managers for this production.

Isabel Kjaer

According to junior KJ Preston Pepperell, throughout his high school career he has stage managed several shows, a role which requires a cool mindset under pressure and organizational skills.

Preston Pepperell said theater has always been a part of life for him, so it was an obvious choice for him to apply for stage manager.

“I’ve always just been involved in theater, so it was pretty natural for me to do theater again,” Preston Pepperell said. “It’s fun because I get to work with all the actors, but then not have to act or memorize lines or anything.”
Spring play director Jodi Hatzenbeller said Preston Pepperell’s experience in the role alongside his skillset gives him an advantage when stage managing.

“KJ has done stage management in the past and has done an excellent job, so it was an obvious fit, and the organizational skills and the leadership that KJ possesses work really well for that position,” Hatzenbeller said.

According to Hatzenbeller, stage managers have to attend each rehearsal, take notes and help actors remember their placements on stage. 

 “The role includes going to every rehearsal, taking meticulous notes about blocking, and then, once we get to the phase where we’re in the latter weeks of rehearsal, the stage managers step up and really manage the rehearsals,” Hatzenbeller said.

Hatzenbeller said Preston Pepperell has the skill set and qualities needed to fulfill the role, particularly when dealing with peers backstage.

“KJ has always shown strong leadership, grace under pressure, which is important because backstage, stage managers also run the show behind-the-scenes,” Hatzenbeller said. “We need somebody who can keep their calm, and be forceful with the actors and fellow technicians behind the stage. KJ is really good at doing that.”

According to Preston Pepperell, later in production actors without memorized lines require help from the stage managers.

“Sometimes (actors’) lines are not memorized, so then we sit in the audience and are on-book, and so essentially if they call for line, then we read the line for them,” Preston Pepperell said.

Hatzenbeller said stage managers do a number of tasks ranging from simple systematic jobs to analyzing practicality of scenes and providing an additional perspective.

“They help with the organization, they help with the record-keeping, and for this show, they’ve helped me make some decisions too,” Hatzenbeller said.

Preston Pepperell said he plans on being in the musical next year, as well as stage managing the rest of the year’s performances.

“I’m planning on auditioning and being in the musical, but if that doesn’t happen, I’ll just stage manage for the musical, and then definitely stage manage for the one-acts and the spring play next year,” Preston Pepperell said.