The Show Must Go On! Pt Four: Show Day Essentials!

If you’ve been following our putting on a show series, you will already know the basics on finding a venue you will know the type of show and how to book acts you will also know about marketing the show and other essential pre show tasks like collecting tech info and more… Now, all the hard work is about to come into fruition – the actual show day has arrived! Here’s everything you need to know for show day! 

Pre-show rituals

Before you even leave the house you’ll probably have a lot to do before you hit the venue… Here is a checklist of what we, as Bluestocking Lounge, do before leaving for the venue:

  1. Print out the list of all pre-paid tickets… Sometimes patrons have emergency situations like forgetting to bring their tickets. If the box office has a list they can refer to of everyone who has paid, it often saves the day.
  2. If patrons are collecting tickets from you on the door, make sure you have them in envelopes with the ticket holder’s name – it’ll save loads of time and hassle
  3. If you are selling tickets on the door, make sure you have a float (count it out to check the amount)
  4. Last minute check of emails just in case someone has tried to get hold of us for any reason…


We like to have a folder with everything in it for the show – plus some emergency items – here’s what’s in ours:

  1. Running orders – at least 5 printed out (box office will like one, one for each dressing room, one for your stage maid, one for (each) techs, one for front of house manager if doing a show in a theatre – they will need to know when your interval is, when the show will go up, when curtain call is to enable bar staff and front of house preparations…)
  2. Tech sheets for your stage manager – in order of the acts so they can prepare what they need
  3. A copy of the technical information you sent ahead of time to the theatre just in case!
  4. CDs – ‘house’ music to be played when audience is entering, interval, etc… Also if you ask for the acts music to be sent ahead of time, don’t forget this!
  5. Performer’s pay and receipts for performers to sign
  6. Marker pen – so handy!
  7. Gaffer/electrical/masking tape just in case you need to mark anything out and in case anyone needs it in an emergency!
  8. copy of your first aid certificate, producer’s insurance and any insurance certificates from the performers you have booked just in case

At The Theatre… 

Aim to be at the theatre before the artists arrive. Not only is it professional, it’s reassuring for a performer not to be the first at a venue they don’t know. You can be there to welcome them, show them dressing rooms and familiarise them with the stage, the backstage toilets and anything else they will need to know (such as fire exits, access etc). If you are there early, you can set up the dressing room(s), check the venue is ready with your requirements (and if it’s a new venue, familiarise yourself with the layout), to check there is no obstructions on the stage or backstage and all the tech staff have the correct show details, introduce yourself to all theatre and venue staff and make sure everyone is on the ball with how the night is going to run. You can also set up your base (usually in one of the dressing rooms). Nik (who co-produces Bluestocking Lounge with Lilly Laudanum) likes to bring flyers and posters for the next show and put these out on tables, etc, just so the audience can see what is to come – there’s always a spike in ticket sales the day after a show, when it is fresh in the audience’s minds…

Our compare DeeDee likes to be at the shows very early, just so she can have a chat to the performers about their acts. She usually has all the information prior to the show but will add to it by chatting to the performers and generally making them feel at ease…

Tech runs

Tech runs are essential for the smooth running of the show. Often you will get a performer who ‘doesn’t need a tech’… but actually, the best advice is that everyone needs a tech. Remember, this might be the first time venue techs have worked on a burlesque or cabaret show and a tech run is more a rehearsal for the venue technicians than for the performer. Give the techs a break and insist on tech runs for everyone, that way, if there is any issues such as a CD not working properly, a lot of lighting cues, complicated set up or a performer needing a mic, then things can be rehearsed prior to the show and any issues can be rectified.

Encourage performers to wear the shoes they will be using in their routines, particularly if the stage is a wooden or laminated type – just to ensure the area is not slippery. Also, if the performer is using props such as Isis wings, feather fans, cloaks, mirrors or anything big, bold, now is the time to check it not only fits onto the stage, but the lighting tech might want to see how the lights work with it (iridescent isis wings can be unpredictable under certain lights – either reflecting, going see-through or soaking up the light)

Your stage maid/manager should be present at the tech runs just so they are familiar with the act and the set up/striking. They should also introduce themselves to the performer and ensure they have all details of the act.

Ensure all performers get the same amount of time – particularly at the start of the tech session where time can easily be gained, meaning a rush for the last performers to tech. Also tech in a logical order – if you know a performer will need to get ready and be on stage first, let them tech first… If a performer has a complicated set up, musical instruments or anything else (silks, aerial, fire, etc) they will need to tech first.

Doors opening

Now that the techs are all done, the doors will be open – which means it’s only a bit of time until show time! Use these final 30 mins to ensure everyone knows how the night is going to run, that performers know where they are on the bill.

If you are selling tickets on the door, make sure your box office person has the float, knows how many tickets they can sell and has any of the pre-paid tickets that the audience are collecting. Also, let them have the running order – audience members sometimes like to ask who is on at what time, when the interval will be or when the show is due to finish and the box office person is who they will generally ask first as they are the first ‘face’ of the show they come in to contact with.

If you can, pop out to see how seating the audience is going and definitely give your performers a time check – you can also give your stage manager this task as you might get involved in things front of house and not be able to pop backstage to give a 15 min time check.

Five minutes before the show starts, ensure your compare is ready in the wings with the first (and possibly the second) act, your stage manager has set up the stage and has all the props ready for the first half and you are ready to go…

Lights! Camera! Action! – Show starts!

Our DeeDee and Dawn (stage manager) like to have a theme tune to walk out to – that way, the audience also know the show has started. It’s a nice intro, especially as the audience will be seeing the stage manager just as much as the compare!

There’s not a lot you can do once the show has started, other than ensure the show is running to time and the performers are ready in the wings at least an act before.


Well, that went well! You are probably busy congratulating yourself on all your hard work and the smooth running of the first half! Make sure you pop out to ‘show your face’ to the ticket buyers – remember you are not fishing for feedback, but it’s nice for them to put a face to the organiser. Also, if you are running anything like a ‘best dressed’ competition (great for getting the audience to dress to impress and for setting the tone) the interval is a great time to spot those who impress you!

Ensure your performers know how long the interval will be and that they are ready   for the second half – and then, it’s just a case of repeating what you have just done!

Curtain call

A great way to end the show is the curtain call – this gives the performers a chance to thank the audience for watching them (a bow and acknowledgement of the audience is all that’s needed) and for the audience to, again, show their appreciation of the artists. It’s a neat way of ending the show.

It’s the compere’s chance to thank the audience for coming (without them, you don’t have a show!), to thank the venue staff and techs, and to remind them to buy tickets for your next show!

After the Show

Before you reach for the bottle (in celebration, hopefully, not the other option!) there’s a few more tasks that must be completed… Firstly, thank and pay your performers if you are paying on the night. Don’t forget to get a signature as you will need some form of receipt or invoice to be able to set the show’s expenses against your tax (if you are paying after the show, make sure you have all performers details and you pay them as soon as you promise – there’s nothing worse as a performer than having to chase producers for payments).

Personally thank the venue staff and techs and collect anyone’s music that they may have forgotten to pick up. Also do a stage check to make sure no one has left any costume pieces or props.

Once the performers are out of the dressing room(s), check to see that it is tidy and no one has left anything behind… Chargers are a thing that people usually forget! As are shoes and gloves.

We definitely like to go somewhere after, and if your venue doesn’t have an after-show party option, we recommend inventing your own! At one of the very first Bluestocking Lounge shows, performers Diva Hollywood and Honey Wilde suggested we all went for curry after and this is a tradition we have firmly honored! It’s really lovely to sit down for a meal after the show, unwind, chat – and some audience members and other wales-based performers will join us.

So, we hope that our ‘putting on a show’ series has been helpful! Good luck with your show and we hope you are fore-armed with this little insight!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s