Throughout the year, ventriloquists, comedians, local musicians, best-selling authors, theater groups and more pass through the doors of the Carroll Arts Center to entertain the residents of Carroll County. While it's these performers who grab the spotlight and take in the applause of the adoring crowd, it's the work of the technicians and stage managers behind the scenes who keep the spotlight lit and allow the adoring crowds to hear the performers they've paid to see.
While today, theater technician Molly Prunty is responsible for any behind-the-scenes work that needs to be done during a show at the Arts Center, it was just five years ago, that she began her theater career as an intern.
Prunty began interning at the Carroll Arts Center during her freshman year at Liberty High School, after having performed in one of their children's theater shows. Primarily working with the children's theater group, Prunty and a number of other high school interns helped out behind the scenes, wrangling the children, creating props and doing odd jobs that needed to be done. Soon, though, Prunty said she began learning the ins and outs of theater technology.
"When I started working here, I didn't know anything about lighting or sound or tech, but I've learned a lot in my time here," Prunty said. "Now I do that stuff here whenever they need me."
Performing Arts Coordinator Tabetha White said Prunty was a standout among the group, who was always willing to go beyond what was asked of her. At the start, White said, they utilized Prunty's artistic talents for painting scenery and props. Soon though, they began to add to her list of duties.
After graduating from high school, Prunty stayed on at the theater, taking on the role of technician. Helping out behind the scenes of both the Arts Council's productions as well as rental groups, Prunty said she does a little bit of everything that needs to be done to make sure the show goes off without a hitch.
"If I'm working an event here, I'm here to do whatever the renter needs me to do," Prunty said. "They need a light person, I can be their light person. If they need a sound person, I can do that. Sometimes, I'm just around to make sure they have everything they need."
Though she continues to work at the Carroll Arts Center, Prunty is also currently attending the Community College of Baltimore County. Though she's majoring in political science, Prunty said she hopes to continue with theater for as long as she can. Prunty said she began acting in middle and high school, but through her work with the Carroll Arts Center, she said she's developed a love for behind-the-scenes work.
"It just makes me happy," Prunty said. "There's something about the atmosphere of being around talented people. It's fun to see stuff come together."
While she helps out with the various guests who come into the Arts Center, Prunty said a majority of her work continues to be helping out with the children's theater program. Currently she is working on their production of "Starmites Lite."
"Usually, during the show, I do one of a few things," Prunty said. "I'm either backstage with the actors calling the cues and making sure everyone is quiet and where they need to be, or I'm running the sound, including the microphones and music cues, and making sure everyone can be heard."
Last week, Prunty finished up a two-week run as stage manager for September Song's production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." For the show Prunty worked as stage manager, responsible for coordinating and organizing the entire production. During the show, she said she faced some new challenges.
"Over the years, I've gotten more of an authoritative voice with the kids," Prunty said. "This has been a bit of a challenge, because this is the first time I've managed adults."
White said Prunty is a valuable asset to the arts community in Carroll County, having moved from intern to crew member to stage manager, all the while developing her talents. Despite all of the hard work, Prunty said the most gratifying part of the process is watching everything come together.
"The best part of the job is seeing all of the interesting performers come in here," Prunty said. "We've had some eclectic people in the past. I've worked with everything from Elvis impersonators to dancers, and I get to watch all of the different people who come here to perform."
Behind The Scenes
In honor of Labor Day, the Times is taking a look this week at four unsung heroes of the workplace.
Monday: Theater technician
Tuesday: Victims advocate
Wednesday: Service specialist