Standby, Organ Boys...(That's what they call them. Whatever gets you through your six week run, I guess.)
The side of my brain that likes fixing things enjoys doing one-off coverage of other people's shows in the same way an extreme sports expert might enjoy jumping off a cliff: it's a rush, you don't know exactly how it'll end, everyone's hoping for the best. I find it weirdly fascinating that the person who actually could have the most control over how a production goes can be completely replaced without the audience's knowledge. As I said in many emails* today, theater is weird.
It's obviously better when there's some heads-up (I like checking my bungee cord) so paperwork can be clarified, notations explained, even props reset to minimize the number of things the replacement can screw up. I still have recordings on my phone from two separate productions that I covered: nearly all the numbers in Godspell (so I could practice calling light cues on their proper bumps) and the ending of "The Beams Are Creaking" (to practice conducting and calling cues simultaneously). I'm glad today's SM had the time to walk me through life before tonight's show, as it helped to know so much was taken care of when the world tried to fall apart elsewhere. (Let's do 'Miracle Worker' with a functional-now-nonfunctional water pump? Sounds great!)
Or, no heads-up can be fun, I guess: the stage manager who knew I was in the building, so she buzzed me to come up to the booth so she could throw up. That Saturday when the morning version of BCPE had an actor not show so we brought me in to run their version while the stage manager went in for a Herdman. I sometimes wonder if part of why I try to be so meticulous in my own paperwork is to ward off theater gremelins from causing me to miss a performance - and thus call for meticulous paperwork for the last second cover.
It's midnight now, so I will quickly sum up by saying that I guess this all means I like my job. Some days, though, there's that extra kicker to get you through the three-four-five-forever weeks run.
[* These emails were asking various cast members if they have a preference for the flavor of gum or cough/Vitamin C drop we'll use in an upcoming production because the props designer doesn't want anyone stuck with an unwelcome flavor. Of course they were.]