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Breaking Down Greased Lightning

David J. McGraw • Stage Manager’s Kit • February 3, 2016
A still of Carrie Havel calling Greased Lightnin
A backstage video of Carrie Havel calling Greased Lightning is quickly going viral.

A video quickly going viral (more than 850,000 views and 10,000 shares on Facebook as of Wednesday Feb. 3) is the Associate Director of Grease: Live! calling the camera shots for the song “Greased Lightning.” Carrie Havel does an amazing job calling the shots and I can’t wait to see a side-by-side view of the show and her call.  But let’s break down the call…


A lot of people have asked what it means to be the Associate Director on a show like Grease Live. Here’s a peek behind the curtain. Every shot in the show was designed and scripted by our director Alex Rudzinski. My job was to execute that plan. You hear me calling shot numbers and camera moves carefully coordinated with the music. My head stays in the script and Alex, to my right, keeps an eye on cameras to adjust framing and pacing. #GreaseLive

Posted by Carrie Havel on Monday, February 1, 2016

Technically speaking, Carrie Havel is calling 35 major camera transitions, which is a feat in two and a half minutes.  But she is also calling camera pick-ups (“doors”) and camera tracking (“whip”) as well as her A and B angles for some close-ups.  In other words, she is calling cameras as if they were followspots.  Perhaps the most enjoyable part of her crystal call is how she counts out the bars to get everyone ready for the next transition.  She could have reduced her calling text by half if she just called out the transition numbers (1 to 35, skipping transition 10) but she keeps everyone in sync by counting the beats.  On a long-running show, she could reduce her calling text, but her Opening Night is also her Closing Night.  Play the clip again and this time watch the screen at the left shoulder of the man with the dark shirt (just off center): it gives the best sense of what the audience is seeing as Carrie calls it all live.


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