Winter 2015

Lynn Finkel

Stage Bound

DGA Quarterly Magazine On the Job with David Webb

It’s no boast when Lynn Finkel says she knows Radio City Music Hall as well as anyone in the business: The first 12 years of her career traced an evolution from PA to stage manager, sliding on the headset thousands of times at the fabled performance venue.

“I just assumed everywhere I went [after Radio City] would have 100-foot wide prosceniums, 80-foot high grids, and would seat 6,000 people,” she laughs. “I got really spoiled learning my craft in such a large house that ran so many complicated productions.”

In fact, Finkel calls her first-ever assistant stage managing gig as part of a team at Radio City “ridiculously hard,” given that it was the legendary Radio City Christmas Spectacular.

“Six shows a day for 10 weeks, hundreds of cues—lighting, flying, elevators moving—and 36 Rockettes,” she says. “I only called the show once [as lead stage manager], and I’m sure, because it was the 400th time that season, no one was even listening.”

You can bet stage manager Gary Natoli, who trained Finkel, was listening when his 2013 Oscars team in Los Angeles, led by director Don Mischer, did a remote “live hit” from the White House, where Finkel was stationed.

She was waiting with a skeleton crew to televise Michelle Obama announcing the best picture winner. Finkel watched the broadcast with the First Lady for some time, all the while clutching the envelope.

“We’re the eyes and ears of the director on every production, but never more so than when it’s a remote from the White House,” says Finkel. “The First Lady’s cue was supposed to be a specific line from Jack Nicholson, which he didn’t say. But she covered perfectly—just like a Hollywood pro.”

Last year Finkel worked on the live-for-broadcast musical The Sound of Music Live! and returned this season for Peter Pan Live! (which aired in December). She calls it a “monster show,” with automation, flying cues, and hundreds of props.

For the numerous flying scenes, she says, “safety was also an issue, with lights, audio cables, and snow in the air, along with flying tracks. When Peter Pan [Allison Williams] was latched in, I needed to get two thumbs-up—one from a stage manager and one from [the flying team].

All around, it was a challenging show. “[We] shot 360 degrees,” says Finkel. “Had [technicians] up in trees and inside closets. Shooting that way meant there were not many places to hide.”

(Photo: Marcie Revens)

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