Staff Highlights: Jason Martin
Whenever we have a live show, there’s a lot going on backstage! Our Technical Director Jason Martin helps everything run as smoothly as possible. Jason tells us about moving the whole family to NH from Texas, his background in theater, and life backstage.
How’d you find your way to The Music Hall and can you tell us a little bit about what you do?
I always knew I wanted to work in the entertainment business. I started off my life in theater as a performer. I received an acting scholarship to go to the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. I was in multiple productions, but it was working on the backstage parts of the shows that I got really excited about. I was one of the few students who was allowed to design multiple main stage shows alongside the faculty designers. I also was assigned as a work-study in our scene shop, and eventually became the Scene Shop Foreman. I enjoyed being in charge of the lighting and scenery crews, helping the other students learn more about stagecraft. Turning the drawings into actual set pieces or painting the stage with light was always so magical to me. I still performed every once in a while, usually in an improv troupe that we started in college called Off-Center. After I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, I started working as a freelance designer around the city and eventually became the Assistant Technical Director for a historic theater in San Antonio called the Majestic Theater, where we had all the traveling Broadway shows as well as live concerts, comedians, children’s shows, a lot of the same type of shows we have at The Music Hall. I became the Technical Director after about a year and continued there for over a decade. I eventually found time to start a family, and we decided we wanted to move somewhere that had more seasons than just “Hot” and luckily The Music Hall was hiring. I moved my family across the country to be here and we love it. If only I had known about the snow…
As the Technical Director, I am in charge of the operation, protection, and maintenance of the production equipment in our venues. I also basically get in contact with the shows coming in and make sure all of their technical needs for lighting, sound, video, rigging, and labor are taken care of before they come into the building. I have an amazing staff that I work with to make sure everything goes as close to plan as possible.
As Technical Director of The Music Hall, tell us one of your trade secrets about running a show.
I know it sounds like a no brainer, but communication is a big part of having a successful show. Everyone involved needs to be on the same page so we can do things in a logical order and no one is needlessly held up getting their job done. It takes a lot of people and a lot of planning to pull off some of the cues and changes that we do on stage, it is sometimes like a carefully coordinated dance. It takes clear communication, and a lot of rehearsal, assuming we have enough time for rehearsal. Sometimes the shows are in and out so quickly, we depend mostly on the experience and skill of our staff and technicians to just get it right.
You spend most of your time behind the scenes, what’s one of your favorite aspects about working backstage at the Historic Theater?
It is really about the people. You get to meet a lot of really great and interesting individuals. You would be surprised how often we get some of the same technicians or managers that come through our venues with different artists. Most of the time, it is like running into an old friend. Sometimes, we just have to remember that they will usually be gone by the end of the day, and then you can look forward to the next event.
What has been one of your favorite moments or favorite performances at the Hall?
My oldest daughter thought that I was the coolest dad because I was able to bring her to see “Miranda Sings” when she performed at The Music Hall. She was doubly excited when I showed up in the background of one of her online videos, she thought I was famous! That lasted for a few weeks…
When you’re not orchestrating a high-quality production at the theater, where are we most likely to find you?
I enjoy camping and spending time with my family. My wife and I have four daughters, between the ages of six and seventeen years old. I love to spend time with them and see what awesome individuals they are becoming. Luckily they are all very interested in art and music, so we have a lot of things in common we can talk about and experiences we can share. They tend to keep us busy. We tend to play a lot of board games at home as well, we have quite the collection.
Is there one area of technical theater you like more than the rest?
Lighting will always have a special place in my heart because it is where I started. I love how just by changing a few colors or intensity of the lighting, you can shift the mood of the audience or convince them that they are in another time or place. It is all still pretty magical to me.