John Sellars is the Assistant General Manager in charge of Production and is responsible for managing “all of the work happening on stage that isn’t singing.” How do they get the stage ready for opening night?
John Sellars (right) during rehearsals
Not all of the work on stage that includes singing. What does your work entail?
It includes overseeing set construction, how the shows are run, the crews that run the shows, how they’re constructed, keeping track of scenery and costumes. It takes a crew of upwards of 300 people.
We have four shows opening in the first week of the season. How do you manage to get everything set up?
All of our scenery is stored in containers off-site, so beginning at the end of the previous season, we will assess the condition of the repertory shows to know what kind of repair work may need to be done on the sets. Then during August as we start tech rehearsals for the new productions. We also load in the repertory productions that will be on stage in the first couple of weeks. We can hold about four or five productions in house at any given time, so we have to manage scenery going in and scenery going out.
How do you get to be you?
I started out building scenery in high school. I was a double major in theater and music in college and was in charge of the scenery shop. When I went to grad school I worked as the assistant technical director in the theater there. Then when I moved to New York I got a job in the shop at the Met and worked for the last half of my time there as a layout carpenter–running crews and deciding how scenery would be built. After 10 years in the shop, I became Assistant Technical Director under [famed Technical Director] Joe Clark. It’s really experience more than anything else, but I’ve been doing it for a very long time.
Are you looking forward to opening night?
Getting ready for the opening brings an extra sense of anticipation because we are also doing a Plazacast. Not only do we have to put the finishing touches on Eugene Onegin, but we have to get the camera gear ready for the Plazacast. Monday will be a very busy day.