The company manager / stage manager is hired by the general manager of a theatrical or live stage production, and is primarily responsible for managing payroll for the cast and crew and numerous other logistical concerns. As the person who signs the paychecks, the company manager is very popular, though not always as well-loved as policy enforcer or bearer of a termination notice.
A company manager works closely with all levels of cast and production staff and tends to their logistical needs; this includes arranging housing and transportation for personnel, securing family-and-friends tickets to performances, and writing contracts or deal memos in cooperation with the applicable unions and guilds. A payroll firm usually handles payroll taxes and other state and federal withholding calculations, as well as the printing of the pay stubs. It is the company manager’s responsibility to deliver all necessary salary and hour information to that firm, and to reconcile payroll to ensure accuracy. In addition, this person handles all outgoing payments to vendors like the advertising firm, prop rental house, etc. In cooperation with the cast and crew, the company manager is the primary point of contact between the company and the general manager. He or she will handle requests for materials purchases, schedule additional work hours, and take requests for other approvals concerning the schedule and budget to the GM. This person also oversees all insurance claims and enrollment in the insurance policy.
Another important responsibility of the company manager is verifying the box office take; that means that the company manager must stay at the venue until the box office staff has compiled all ticket sale information and turned in the sales statement. The company manager checks this statement with the house manager for accuracy to ensure proper accounting, and reports to the general manager the total revenue for that performance. Hard ticket systems are still in place at smaller theaters, but most professional organizations have moved to computerized systems to prevent accounting errors and fraud. Additionally, the company manager is tasked with calculating royalties associated with the ongoing production and seeing that those payments are made on time and to the appropriate publisher.
Skills & Education
The best company managers are generalists who are highly detail-oriented, even nitpicky. This career requires an extensive academic education that may include theatrical management or arts administration. A bachelor’s degree is required, and a master of fine arts or business administration is preferred. It is advantageous to pursue coursework in design or technical theater, to understand the demands and processes of mounting a creative production, and to learn to communicate with crew, cast, and designers. Additional classes in accounting, finance, and entertainment and copyright law are recommended. The company manager should be proficient in project planning, juggling logistical concerns, and financial reporting. Knowledge of local and federal labor laws, union rules, and tax codes is also a necessity. The Actors Equity Association union agreement alone is 130 pages long.
What to Expect
Employment opportunities are available on Broadway shows, Off-Broadway shows, regional theater, and touring productions, whether concerts, musicals, or other live events. At a resident production, the company manager’s office will be in the general manager’s office, which may be off-site. On tours, the company manager travels with the show and sets up shop in any available space at the venue designated for administrative personnel, like the tour manager. This is a senior-level position that requires several years of professional experience, which can be gained through work as an assistant to a company manager or general manager, production manager, or house manager. Similarly, you can start your path through work on a technical crew or as a stage manager. The Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers represents company managers.