Monday, May 13, 2013
SHOWTIME, written by Kevin Sylvster. Annick Press, 2013. $12.95 ages 10 and up
Six years ago, I was in Halifax while the Rolling Stones were there to play an open air summer concert. Bret and Carmen lived in an apartment block right across from Halifax Common where the concert was to be held, and we watched all of the action for one full week! We read in the paper the following day that there were more than 100 roadies, and 78 red and white semi-trailer trucks filled with the stage equipment needed to present such a show! I had no idea...but, by the end of that week, we had watched as every piece of the stage, the stands, the sound equipment, the hoopla emerged from those trucks. They also set up the Armory directly behind the Common with the accouterments needed by the band to entertain them as they first did their sound checks and then waited for their time on stage. That number did not take into account security, food trucks, tents, portable washrooms, fencing to control the 50,000 fans who braved a dreary, rainy sky to start lining up at 10 am for the 5 pm start.
It certainly raised our awareness of just some of what goes on in 'show business' and I remain fascinated by the fact that so many 'behind-the-scenes' people are rarely recognized. Thankfully, Kevin Sylvester changes that with this book about the 'other' stars of that world. As he did in Game
Day (Annick, 2012) for sporting events, so he has done in this new book for the unsung heroes who make those shows and movies that we watch so memorable and enjoyable for fans.
He introduces readers to some of the hundreds of people who make the shows worthwhile, and who help to make the performers look great. If you have ever wondered what a set designer does, meet Machiko Weston who creates tiny replicas in 3D of how the stage will actually look when it is fully realized. Then a crew works to produce the vision! The list goes on and includes the trucker (and gives him a name...Ben Pinel) who hauls the speakers, lights, lasers and all else needed to create the spectacle meant to entertain everyone in attendance. Ben is the convoy leader and ensures that all trucks are unloaded prior to the show, and reloaded when the lights go out. Everything must be done quickly as another show may be happening tomorrow night!
If you are wondering about a career as a designer of sets or costumes, in promotion, choreography, or voice training...even if you want to do security, this is the book that will give you a taste for the work that 'showtime' entails. It's a pretty fascinating slice of life.
Kevin includes theater, dance, and concerts as he describes those people who 'get the show on the road' and ensure that we see the performance that we will want to share with our friends!