4 Key Components to a Great Run of Show

4 Key Components to a Great Run of Show

Posted September 13, 2016 by Heather Hutson

You’ve heard it. Every production company, every audiovisual company makes the same promise. FLAWLESS EXECUTION. How can they all promise that? Well, there’s a method to flawless execution and it starts with a clear and well crafted Run of Show.


My friend and mentor, Kristina.

A true Run of Show (ROS) is a cue sheet that the stage manager provides to the crew so that each department lead knows what and when precisely each cue it going to be called.   It’s different than the agenda or the script in that it is focused on timing and execution of the content.

There are several ways to draft a ROS, some people use Word, some people use ShoFlo, I use an Excel template that my friend and mentor, Kristina Gafanha, gave to me years ago. Regardless of the medium it needs to have four key components.


screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-8-51-16-amEach element within a show is going to happen at a specific time. One of the many jobs of the Stage Manager is to keep the show on time. If doors are to open at 8:15 am, then the Stage Manager makes sure that the doors are open at 8:15 am (unless the client directs otherwise). This means that every element of the ROS has its own line, and each line has its own start, duration and finish time. Every minute is accounted for.




Each part of the show is its own element. Like we said before, each element has a line in the spreadsheet. For example, the doors will open then there will be an announcement asking people to silence their phones, followed by an announcement for people to take their seats, followed by the Opening Video. That sequence of events could take around 15 minutes. It has four elements in it. DOORS, 5 MIN, 1 MIN, OPENING VIDEO.


Each element will have a cue associated with it. Let’s take a look at the cues that are commonly associated with the elements above

  • DOORS –  Lighting and Video’s cue would be pre show walk in look, Audio’s cue will be walk in music
  • 5 MIN –   Audio’s cue will be to playback a pre recorded 5 min announcement, or do it live over the Voice of God mic. Either way it will be a cue that the Stage manager will call.
  • 1 MIN- Will be the same as above
  • OPENING VIDEO- Lighting will be asked to bring the houselights down, Audio will be asked to bring the walk in music out
  • Video switcher will be asked to switch from Graphics machines to Video Playback
  • Video will be asked to playback the video off of the primary video machine
  • Audio will be asked to bring up the volume of this same primary video machine

Then at the end of the video, the Playback Technician will count down from 10 and the stage manger will call:

  • Video Switcher to go back to Graphics
  • Lighting to bring up stage lights
  • Audio to playback a pre recorded announcement welcoming the first presenter to stage followed by a stinger (a short cut of music)
  • Lastly, the Audio tech will turn up the speakers microphone

A lot happens to start a simple show.


Each department has a column. So as we go down each element it’s easy for the department leads to see what he’s supposed to do. Of course, the Stage Manager gives warnings and cues, but responsible crew members don’t rely wholly on that. They are following along, anticipating the cue.



All of these pieces, the times, the lines, the columns for each department, work in harmony to ensure that the show is flawlessly executed. There is a method to this promise. That’s why it’s important to have a true stage manager to lead the crew.

If you have called shows before, we’re interested in hearing how you set up your ROS, if you’re new to the party, we’d love to know your thoughts on ROS creation.

Have a good show everyone.




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4 thoughts on “4 Key Components to a Great Run of Show”

  1. Frank Berman says:

    Brilliant and instructional! Concisely written, you’ve described the foundation upon which all great shows are built. We begin with the end in mind and detail each component to ensure control and harmony.
    Well Done!

    1. Heather Hutson says:

      Thanks! I appreciate your feedback!

  2. Shoflo says:

    Great post Heather! Thanks for the mentioning us :)

    1. Heather Hutson says:

      You got it!!

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