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Stage manager Alanis Graham happy to work with former Oregon City teacher Karlyn Love

Audiences who attend "The Octette Bridge Club" will not be aware that a young woman named Alanis Graham is running the show. They will never see her or hear her voice, and that means that she is doing her job perfectly.

COURTESY PHOTO: KARMIN TOMLINSON - Alanis Graham, stage manager of 'The Octette Bridge Club,' explains to director Karlyn Love how she made the severed head of John the Baptist as a prop for one of the actresses in the play.  Graham is the stage manager for the New Century Players' production running through Dec. 1 at the Rose Villa Performing Arts Center.

Graham graduated from Oregon City High School in 2017, where she spent two years in the drama program, taught by Karlyn Love. After graduation, Graham volunteered with the drama department, acting as assistant director and stage manager, until Love retired in 2018.

So when Love, now the director of "The Octette Bridge Club," asked Graham to take on multiple roles, she jumped at the chance to once again be by Love's side.

"If it were someone else asking, I would have to think about it more with my busy schedule between work, school and volunteering for my church in the youth programs, but for Karlyn, I will always try to work it into my schedule," Graham said.

During rehearsals for the play, which began months ago, Graham acted as assistant director. She had her own copy of the script, which documented all the blocking in detail. She followed along with the script in case the actors dropped a line or skipped over a section. Graham also helped set up and take down furniture during rehearsals and preset props backstage and onstage.

"I chime in with ideas, feedback or opinions if I think of something Karlyn might not have noticed," Graham said.

"I also stand in when an actor is sick or can't make it to rehearsal, reading their lines and following their blocking, just to be an extra body and someone for the other actors to interact with, so the actor's absence doesn't throw the other actors off."

Graham also made a severed head prop for one performer's Halloween costume, and she makes all the cakes and cookies for the food props.

Stage manager

Now that the play has opened, Graham's stage manager duties consist of setting, checking and managing props throughout the show, making sure the actors are ready and in place between scenes, assisting scene transitions, and opening and closing the curtain.

"I also manage the light/sound operator, making sure everyone is ready to start the show on time and that all the cues are hit," Graham said.

After the show is over for the night, she stays after to clean up and make sure that all the furniture and props are safely stored away and ready for the next performance.

"In general, I oversee things and make sure everything happens like clockwork. As we are a relatively small cast with a small set, I double as crew, as well as assisting quick costume changes," Graham said.

She also follows along in the script as the play progresses, which helps keep her engaged in the production.

Working together

"Working alongside Karlyn is always an honor and a joy. Her professionalism is inspiring, and her sense of humor is a thrill. She is the perfect balance of hard work and fun," Graham said. Love's "attention to detail is impeccable (and) her dedication to her craft is admirable.

"Karlyn was an amazing drama teacher and mentor. Being able to continue to have her as a part of my life is a blessing."

Graham added, "She has made an immense impact on my life through the years and I couldn't ask for a better director."

Love feels the same way about Graham, saying that she is "creative, dependable, dedicated, organized and willing to tell me her opinion."

Stage managers play a crucial role in any production, as they help see the play through to the very last performance, Love said.

"They take over for the director once the show opens, and attempt to maintain the integrity of the original vision of the show that developed through the rehearsal process," she said.

"Keeping track of the blocking and line notes for this show has been challenging because, for the most part, all of the sisters are on stage all of the time. Alanis has never missed a beat though, she is amazing."

Love added: "I love her and want her to work on every show I do. She is the best."

Deal me in

What: New Century Players presents "The Octette Bridge Club"

When: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 22, 23, 29 and 30; 2 p.m. Nov. 24 and Dec. 1

Where: Rose Villa Performing Arts Center, 13505 S.E. River Road, Oak Grove.

Tickets: $20, general admission, $15 seniors, $10 students; available at the door, at or by calling 503-367-2620.

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