Kathleen Mahoney of Oregon Cabaret Theatre

"My approach to everything in life is usually to approach it with a sense of humor." — Kathleen Mahoney
Kathleen Mahoney
Kathleen Mahoney

EH: Tell me about “Kicking the Clouds Away.”

KM: It has songs of the ’20s and ’30s. We have been looking at a lot of newspaper headlines from those days; they are the same as the headlines today with the banks and unemployment. There are a lot of hopeful songs; there’s a lot of: “Bad times are just around the corner” and “Grey skies will clear up and it will be OK” and “Yes we can” kind of thing. The music is not stuff that has been done a lot. It’s nice: “Little Girl Blue,” “Pennies From Heaven” and “Let’s Have Another Cup of Coffee.” There is some familiar music, but some of it isn’t, especially the 1920s songs. It’s just amazing how the lyrics reflect what’s going on now. It’s truly uncanny.

EH: Did you always want to be a stage manager?

KM: In high school and college I was doing things on stage. When I got the opportunity to stage manage, I really liked it. I went to school at the University of Arizona, where everybody had to do everything, which I think is good. Actors should have to do tech, and technical people should have to be on stage. It’s such a symbiotic relationship; you need to know where the other person’s coming from. As a stage manager, it’s really helpful because I can speak the language of the different designers. And the tech people understand what I’m asking for. When I have to, all of a sudden, say, “Oh no, all of the doors have to open the other way.” I know what it takes to do that, so I know how to couch it in terms that might not make them mad. It’s like putting together a big puzzle. You’ve got to get all this information from different people and places and keep track of it and fit all of the different elements together. That’s my favorite part of it.

I love the Oregon Cabaret Theatre; it really is home. For me, it’s a one-man band; I run the lights and sound, so all of my technical background has served me. I’ve been very lucky that I have found a home here. A lot of theaters have a resident stage manager and bring different actors in for shows.

EH: When you work on a show, do you start right at the beginning of the rehearsal process?

KM: I have spent half of my life listening to people learn harmonies. And I’m sort of superfluous at that point, except when someone needs music Xeroxed or whatever. But it does help me to know the group dynamics of how the cast is going to work together. That becomes important also, because the stage manager is also the mediator (and all that good stuff). So, right from the get-go, I’m there. Another thing you do when you are a stage manager is to drive injured actors to doctor’s appointments, and learn about the parts they’ve broken. But, knock on wood, we try not to hurt them too badly.

My approach to everything in life is usually to approach it with a sense of humor. It leaves me in a better mood at the end of the day. I understand that this is work. They call it a play, but it is work. I do take my job very seriously, and I’m responsible. But let’s have some fun too; or otherwise, what’s the point?

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