BY ANN FARMER
Every first Sunday in November, thousands of eager participants wake up while it's still dark out and make their way to the NYC Marathon. That includes Annette Powlis. As the stage manager for the marathon's TV anchor booth for 22 years, she coordinates interviews with runners and cues the talent whenever the cameras start rolling.
"Stage managing is all about timing and being cognizant of when you are on-air," says Powlis.
"The job is to execute the vision of the director and producers," she adds, "taking into consideration all of the elements essential to the show."
For more produced types of shows, she coordinates with the lighting and crew departments. Powlis ensures that props appear onstage at the right moment. She'll hasten hair and makeup along whenever necessary. And she'll steer the on-air talent to whichever camera they should be looking at, "so everyone is on the same page," she says.
The job can require some handholding. Like when she gave a petrified celebrity a quick pep talk in the set's broom closet. "You're a veteran. You're going to do great," she told her.
The gigs that excite Powlis the most are variety and entertainment programs. "I love the artistry," she says. "I love the fast pace. It's an adrenalin rush."
For The Wiz Live!, she served on a team of stage managers, overseeing dozens of dancers plus stilt walkers from Cirque du Soleil. She arranged for their shoe fittings. She scheduled rehearsals. She even certified that all tattoos were sufficiently concealed. "We had a chair just for covering tattoos."
"It was amazing," says Powlis, describing costume changes she had to guarantee were executed within 90 seconds. "The important thing," she says, "is to get the show off without a hitch."