Stage Manager Ross Brown takes us backstage of Cinnabar’s ‘Good People’

ROSS 1Ross Brown is washing dishes.

Wine glasses, to be specific – props in the upcoming production of David Lindsay-Abaire’s “Good People,” opening this weekend at Cinnabar Theater. Brown, of Cotati, is the show’s stage manager, a role he often fills at Cinnabar, along with a number of other theaters and performance spaces around the North Bay. This evening, roughly an hour before the actors and director arrive for a “Good People” rehearsal, Brown is readying the many, many props required in the show. Caring for and arranging such props is one of the many tasks a stage manager generally undertakes when working on a show.

Washing dishes being one more.

“Yeah, this is my favorite part of being a stage manager,” Brown says with an ironic grin. “I just did another show here — “My Way,” the Frank Sinatra show — that had a full bar. So I had to wash martini glasses every night. And I managed to make it through the whole run, only breaking one glass. So that was pretty good.”

In “Good People” — a twisty-and-turny comedy-drama about an unemployed South Boston woman (Sarah McKereghan), desperate to make a better life for herself and her disabled daughter — characters serve coffee and wine, stack up catering dishes, deliver envelopes full of cash, and play bingo.

All of that requires careful placing of props.

Ross 2“There’s coffee in the first act, with at least three mugs, and then red and white wine served during the second act,” explains Brown, giving a tour of the backstage area where the various items stand waiting for the actors. Those props include the actual “coffee” and “wine” consumed by the performers. “For wine, I use water and food coloring,” he says. “I mix that up myself. I have my own recipe.” Pointing to a pitcher of fake red wine, he adds, “I’ve made all kinds of drinks for all kinds of shows, and I kind of have it down to a science now. Using water allows me to avoid complaints, since every actor has their own dietary restrictions. Some don’t do sugar, some don’t do caffeine, some can’t drink certain kinds of juices. Some stage managers use iced tea for things like scotch or bourbon, but there’s caffeine in that. So I just use food coloring in water and it works out fine.”

Brown has acquired many skills, were he not a professional stage manager, he would never otherwise have learned.

[Click ‘HERE‘ to read the full story in the Petaluma Argus-Courier]

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