The ultimate who’s who in a creative team
Although casts take to the stage night after night, what you see on stage wouldn’t be possible without the input of a creative team. If you want to know the difference between set design, sound design and light design, as well as what makes a producer, then you’ve come to the right place! Read all about who’s who in a creative team with us and we’re sure you’ll look at future productions in a different light.
Who makes up a creative team?
The author is the person who wrote the production, typically credited as writing the “book”. For some productions, the author may not have wrote the production, but may be the author or creator of a story which has been adapted for the stage. To make it all a bit easier to understand, here are two examples of different situations where people can be credited as the author.
The “book” writer of Waitress is Jessie Nelson, however the production is based upon Adrienne Shelley’s motion picture of the same name.
A director oversees everything that happens on stage, from how the characters are portrayed and work with each other, as well as deciding how the overall vision of a show is conceived to ensure a cohesive production is created where everything blends into one another. Directors have to liaise with everyone in the creative team for all aspects of a show to come together, but a show that is directed well will often scoop up many awards.
A notable director is Marianne Elliot, who recently directed the first gender-reversed production of Company as well as Angels in America and War Horse.
Although they may not feature as part of the creative team in every production, a dramaturg assists the director and producer by ensuring that each part of a show is historically accurate to the time period by consulting with authors and researching around the historical era.
A producer is in charge of planning and coordinating all aspects of getting the show to curtain up, as well as maintaining the smooth running of a production while it is open. Producers could be the venue that is holding a show or an individual that runs a production company themselves, however they will perform similar roles to ensure that all members of the creative team are supported.
A choreographer devises and creates the dance routines that feature throughout a production. If a show does not have lots of dance numbers, a choreographer may also assist with the stylisation of scenes and moments within the show, where controlled movement is necessary.
One of the most influential choreographers is Bob Fosse, who lent his jazz style to Chicago and Cabaret, winning eight Tony Awards throughout his career for choreography, holding the title of most awards to a choreographer.
In charge of the music, a musical director is in charge of conducting the orchestra as well as those who may play an instrument during the show. They will also liaise with the director in order to make sure that the music is conducive to the atmosphere that they would like the production to have. Overall, it is the musical director’s job to ensure that the music and backing gives the right mood to a show and does not distract from what is happening on stage.
Although a lyricist’s job is mostly complete before a production, a lyricist may have to alter specific lines in songs in order to fit with current affairs, as well as musical lines that may be out of date. This is often the case with The Book of Mormon, where some parts of the text are changed to reflect updated references.
A costume designer will ensure that every outfit is meticulously crafted and designed to reflect the time period, as well as considering the movement that performers have to make on stage to make a breathable, wearable outfit.
Famous costume designers include Catherine Zuber, who has previously designed award-winning costumes for The King and I which you can take a look at here.
To find out more about costume designers, read all about how to become a costume designer here.
A light designer’s task is to ensure that the lighting fits with the atmosphere of specific scenes, conjuring up the light and darkness that moments in shows may require. When creating the light maps for a production, they have to make sure that the lights are responsive to the setting, as well as consider the safety of performers without blinding anyone in the audience. It is also their job to be in charge of the lights for every production, and requires a steady hand to be there to help recover what’s happening on stage in case the slightest thing goes wrong.
A sound designer will integrate the auditory parts of a show, by ensuring that the sound levels reflect specific songs, scenes and moments within a show, as well as making sure that the cast sound at their optimum on stage. Sound designers are able to incorporate the latest audio technology into devising soundtracks for the show, and may also have a close relationship with the orchestra to ensure that live music is not drowning out the performance on stage.
A scenic designer will ensure that the vision of a show is reflected accurately through the set. Whether they are sourcing props to incorporate into the production, or assisting how walls and backdrops should be designed to fit with the overall design of how a show should look. A scenic designer will also work with the props team to make sure that the set and props blend neatly together.
Stage managers will make sure that everything that happens during a production runs smoothly. They are responsible for lighting and other technical arrangements that need to be considered throughout a peformance, by making sure that sets are brought on at the correct time, as well as making sure that cast members are ready and waiting in the wings before they need to go on stage.