________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 38. . . .May 31, 2013


Showtime: Meet the People Behind the Scenes.

Kevin Sylvester.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 2013.
84 pp., pbk., $12.95 (pbk.), $21.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55451-486-1 (pbk.),
ISBN 978-1-55451-487-8 (hc.).

Subject Heading:
Performing arts-Vocational guidance-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4 and up / Ages 9 and up.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

**** /4



After the trucks are unloaded and parked, Ben sticks around to make sure everything is okay with the crew, and with the people who run the arena. As lead driver, he's the go-between if there are any issues with drivers goofing around (happens sometimes) or if a truck has banged into a loading dock support (almost never happens, but it's really bad if it does).

Today there's nothing to worry about so Ben heads off to get some sleep. His truck is equipped with everything he needs to live on the road: TV, video games, microwave, fridge, and bed. Well, almost everything! There are no toilets in these trucks, so Ben has to scout one out for his bathroom breaks. (From "Long-Haul Trucker".)

After watching an NHL game when he was about four-years-old, my eldest son announced that, when he grew up, he was going to be a front-up goalie. As TV shows like So You Think You Can Dance, America's Got Talent and American Idol reveal, a lot of people want to occupy that spotlight at centre stage, but, in reality, few actually possess the requisite skills and abilities to be the headliner. However, just because we can't be the star doesn't mean that we can't be gainfully connected with our interest area.

     With Showtime: Meet the People Behind the Scenes, Sylvester explores some of the jobs that must be performed in order that the "front up" stars in the entertainment field can shine. Showtime highlights 11 occupations connected to show business, and Sylvester illustrates these jobs through the stories of six men and five women who presently fill these roles. These occupations are: choreographer, vocal coach, set designer/model maker, long-haul trucker, instrument maker, critic, costume designer, advertiser/designer, pyrotechnics expert, songwriter and promoter. The two-column entries, which range in length from 5-8 pages, are liberally illustrated with colour photos, often full-page. Using broad strokes, Sylvester explains how each person came to her/his occupation and describes whatís generally involved in performing that job. Sylvester's words are fleshed out by direct quotes from an individual who is occupying that role. Also complementing the main text are numerous text boxes. For instance, in the chapter about Al Domanski, the pyrotechnics expert, Sylvester includes a text box entitled "Van Halen and the M&M's". Many people may have heard that the hard rock group demanded that their dressing room be stocked with M&M candies, with the brown M&'s to have been removed from the mix of colours. Now, to many, such a request may seem to be just another example of spoiled rock stars' excessive demands, but the text box reveals that this "demand" was imbedded in the middle of the group's safety checklist for the stage. "If they showed up and there were brown M&M's waiting for them, they wouldn't play." Each chapter concludes with a "Want to be a ...?" section which provides four or five suggestions of things a readers could begin undertaking now in order to become better prepared for that particular role in the future. For example, the "Want to be a songwriter?" section reads:

      Learn to play an instrument. You may not want to be a musician, but you'll need to have experience with how the notes you write are meant to be played. So don't drop band in school.

Study music theory. You might have a great song in your head, but if you donít know how to write down the notes, that's where it will stay. It also helps to play around with music-mixing programs on your computer.

Learn how to tell a good story. Listen to songs you like and analyze them. How does the singer convey the story? What words are powerful? Which ones are weak?

Listen all the time. Lee [Lee Thomas Miller, the subject of this chapter] says many of his ideas grow out of conversations heís overheard, or everyday things he sees on the street.

Carry a notebook. Nothing is worse than thinking up a great idea and then forgetting it by the time you find a pen and paper. Be ready for inspiration!

      The final chapter, "Welcome to the Show", takes readers behind the scenes at Vancouver's Roger's Arena where they meet an additional six people, four women and two men, who are responsible for everything from booking the acts to dealing with crowd control.

     One of Showtime's real strengths is the wide range of occupations, from blue to white collar, that it presents. In addition to the direct Canadian content found in "Welcome to the Show", choreographer Bradley Rapier and pyrotechnics expert Al Domanski are identified as being Canadian. Like Game Day, Showtime is an excellent recreational read, one which offers most palatable vocational guidance.


Highly Recommended.

Dave Jenkinson, CM's editor, resides in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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