My name is Maggie Leroux and I am stage kitten in The Netherlands. In 2014 I started dance lessons with miss Flora Gattina at the Amsterdam School of Burlesque. Unlike the other students, who prepared to be on stage as a burlesque performer, I discovered my passion for the backstage and aspired to be stage kitten. I made my debut in 2015 and worked at several shows and festivals since then. You might know me as stage kitten of Burlesque Kingdom by Fay Loren, Burlesque Freak Out by Marco ‘Charley’ Buschman, the Rasalila burlesque shows by Flora Gattina, the International Burlesque Circus by Xarah von den Vielenregen and the Amsterdam Burlesque Awards. Maggie Leroux is a cheerful and somewhat cheeky character, like a modern jester who’s cap with bells is replaced with leopard print and the mock sceptre with a broom. It is my belief that Maggie is a key figure between audience and burlesque crew. She is content when both parties are happy. Her biggest dream is a positive, fun and especially save international burlesque community.
1. What’s the hardest thing you have ever been asked to do?
Every show or festival brings up many challenges; the amount and size of props, communication with performers in a foreign language, working with fire or magic tricks and keep the show running at all times. These challenges make my work interesting and I always keep in mind there’s always a solution. The hardest thing I ever had to do is to tell a stage manager off, who assaulted and sexual harassed me and others. This might not seem to be hard at all, but for me it was at that time.
2. Why do you love stage management?
I love to take care of the burlesque crew and audience. When a performer doesn’t have to worry about the preparations before and the clean up after an act, he/she can focus on the performance itself. It takes a lot of trust and responsibility and it makes me proud to be part of the show in that way.
3. What are the top 3 tips you would give a new stage manager starting out?
1. Responsibility; know what your responsibilities are and take them serious.
2. Respect; treat others, the objects and costumes that you work with and the venue with respect.
3. Take care of yourself; if you don’t care of yourself, you can’t take care of others.
4. What is your go to checklist?
I always take some time to have a conversation with the performers during or before the run-through of a show. Even if I saw some acts over a dozen of times, I still make sure I know what to expect. In these conversations I ask about the preparations (set-up), the clean-up and other needs a performer has. I write everything down so I exactly know what to do, when to act and what tools I need in the backstage. At the end of a show I always keep my notes, because I collect them.
5. What do you alter for different shows?
Every show or festival has its own character on which I adjust my appearance and behaviour on stage. Leopard print is my trademark, but I have more classic costumes as well. Sometimes a producer has a special request for a costume or certain look. With each appearance comes a certain attitude as well. This behaviour also depends on the chemistry with the MC. I always try to get as less stage time as possible, but when I’m on stage I love to have some fun with the MC and audience.
6. What are the best tips and tools for a stage manager?
- Be punctual and keep an eye on the time
- Have your ‘emergency kit’ ready in the backstage. – Help out as much as possible, but don’t disturb the burlesque crew when not necessary.
- – Carry the line-up and set list with you. – Check your appearance before you enter the stage.
- – Be aware of your stage presence when you’re in public.
- – Stay in close contact with the producer.
- – Keep your mind clear: don’t drink alcohol before or during a show.
- – Visit burlesque shows regularly to learn and to support; we’re all colleagues.
- – Have fun!
7. How do you deal with glitter?
Glitter is beautiful, but tricky on stage. There is quite a difference between stages and different kinds of glitter. For every combination that exist I have my own cleaning method. It’s very important for a stage kitten to know what does work and what doesn’t work. One of my favourite ways to remove glitter from the stage is to blow the glitter in the audience with feather fans. Make sure the owner of the fans gave you permission to do so.
Photo by Mickael Björn.