A lot goes into live shows at America's Got Talent. Between tons of contestants and a large crew to make the show happen, AGT is a lot similar to a theater spectacle instead of a television show. Like all live television shows, what you see on the air is not what is happening backstage. Behind the curtains are stagehands, set pieces, producers, contestants and everyone in between who keep the show going on schedule.
On show days, contestants and crew arrive very early to get ready. Contestants - which are acts ranging from one person to over forty people - head to hair, makeup and wardrobe to prepare for their performance while crews begin prepping props, set pieces and other items needed for the evening's broadcast. Both contestants and crew spend a lot of the day practicing as well: the contestants practice their routines in costume while the crew rehearses setting up and breaking down set pieces in less than a minute's time. When the time comes for dress rehearsal, the contestants and crew gather at the stage and green room to stumble through the show.
During this time, the show is run through as if it were live. There are rarely any stops but, occasionally, there has to be one or two if a set is not finished being constructed or an act is not set to go. The dress rehearsal is the time for mistakes, as both contestants and crew are trying to figure out what will work and what needs to be simplified for live television. Think about it this way: for the live show, contestants and crew only have the span of a commercial and the one minute between Nick introducing them and the start of their performance to be set. In live television, every second counts - literally!
After the rehearsal, both crew and contestants take a rest. Contestants head back to the contestant tent to get a bite to eat and, occasionally, get out of costume for some time. Crew also grab a bite to eat at this time, as they have to be back before contestants to prep everything.
When it's time for the show to start, everyone gets into position as if they are soldiers heading to battle stations. All fifty crew members - which include prop people, riggers and carpenters - get into place and prepare for the show. All set pieces for acts are arranged backstage in the order that they will go on to ensure the show runs smoothly. With four stage managers overseeing everything, there is no chance anything will go wrong and, of course, all crew are prepped from practicing the show all day.
The stage managers, who are the show's backstage ringleaders, have a lot to do during showtime. Besides coordinating the crew, they must also ensure that backup dancers are in place and everyone is keeping walkways cleared and backstage quiet. With AGT's crew having over 200 people and with producers, hair, makeup and wardrobe constantly moving in and out of the stage and green room, the stage managers have to keep the show going and make sure no one is standing in the way of production.
For the contestants, they are arranged backstage in the order they will be appearing on the show. When one act is on stage, the next act is "on deck" or in a holding area next to the stage, prepped to go on. Typically, the two acts following a performance are always on deck, ready to go when their time comes. Along with the stage managers, six talent wranglers keep tabs on contestants, getting them to the right places at the right times. When a performer is done, everyone is held in the green room until the end of the show, when they return to the stage for the closing of the show.
After the show has ended, contestants attend to some loose ends with producers, including getting interviewed or getting their photo taken. When they are finished, they then are done for the night, free to get out of costume and head home. The crew has a similar end to their evening; however, they have to return all of the props and sets to their places. The following day, the crew will break down all of the set pieces and props and return them to an AGT storage facility.
A lot goes into an AGT live show! Aside from performers performing, many, many people have to make sure the show can go on. Between crew, stage managers, talent wranglers, producers, hair, makeup, wardrobe and everyone else on set, making the AGT live shows happen is more work than putting on just any other live television show.