What happens behind the scenes of a concert?

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Sutton Foster at A Capitol Fourth

Do you have a child who loves music or theater? They may dream of a future on the stage, but perhaps they should also consider checking out all the jobs available behind the scenes!

I had no idea how much work went into a stage production until I found myself at the dress rehearsals for A Capitol Fourth, a huge (FREE) concert put on every year by PBS in honor of America’s birthday. This concert is a huge deal here in the Washington DC area- thousands upon thousands of people head downtown to watch from the Capitol, rain or shine.


My Fancy Badge! 

When I arrived yesterday morning, I found myself in the company of hundreds of people, all there to make sure the show went off without a hitch. Everyone has an important part to play, and the show can’t go on without these jobs getting done.

There are the artists- this year, the show is featuring big names (Kenny Loggins, Smokey Robinson, and Gavin Degraw) up and coming performers (Cassidee Pope, Amber Riley) and so many more. There are also choir members, back-up singers, band members, orchestra members and dancers all there to showcase their skills.


Kenny Loggins- Footloose is STILL the jam. I will admit to dancing like a crazy person for this song…


The show is hosted by Tom Bergeron – who is every bit as funny and kind as he appears to be on television. 

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Cassadee Pope with the choir- they sounded amazing together.

In addition to them, there are support people, people who help make the performers look good, help them get where they need to be, who hold umbrellas to make sure the instruments don’t get wet when it does rain and make sure everyone is having a good time.

There are audio/visual teams- people who take care of the lights, and record the show and work the teleprompters and handle the special effects. They make sure all the sounds are balanced and that the musicians can hear themselves, and we can all hear them.


There are managers and producers who coordinate everything and keep the show running smoothly.

There are publicity teams and media members (which is where I fell in this whole thing) who are spreading the word and making sure that everyone knows that this fantastic show is about to happen.

There are police officers and security guards who are keeping the venue safe- many of those working yesterday were on duty ALL day, and make sure that we were all where we needed to be and could focus on the event.

The thing that really struck me is how much of a family all these people were. Everyone, from the woman who was in charge of placing name stickers on chairs, to the freelance photographer and performers were all in such a wonderful mood and were ready to help. There wasn’t a single diva moment that I saw. What I saw was people full of smiles, people who loved their jobs, and people who loved this country, and wanted to put on an amazing show.


Do you see these shoes Alisan Porter wore? She looked and sounded beautiful, but OH my feet hurt just watching her! 

At one point, one of the singers was coming out in sky-high heels and someone was quick to help her get across the slightly smushy rain-soaked grass to the stage. When it was raining, a team was wiping down the stage to make sure no one would slip and covered the instruments with plastic to keep them safe. When the musicians wanted a picture with Gavin Degraw, a photographer happily volunteered to get the shot for them. When Gavin DeGraw came out, he walked right over with a smile on his face, high-fived us for being military spouses, and thanked my husband for his service.


Gavin DeGraw- who wins the down to earth award for the day. He was SO charming and kind- he approached us instead of me chasing him down like a crazy fan girl. 

Yes, it sounds corny to say it- but it truly was a beautiful day. I’m a little embarrassed that I didn’t know just how much work goes into a show like this- and all I saw was the work that was happening YESTERDAY. This team has been planning and coordinating this show for months and setting up for days before I arrived.


The crowd that gathered to watch the dress rehearsal in the rain.

Y’all should tune into PBS tonight to see it- it’s going to be an amazing production. The music will have you and the kids on your feet. You probably won’t be able to see all the busy people working behind the scenes to make the show fabulous, but I hope you remember that they are there, and they want nothing more than for you to enjoy America’s Biggest Birthday Party. I know the kids and I will be watching!

Tune in at 8 PM EST on PBS, check out the live stream online, and follow along with the hashtag #July4thPBS

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