A senior client wants me to shoot her in a production of her high school play. No flash allowed, don't know exactly how dark it will be. I shoot with a 5D and have gotten permission to set up a tripod in the center aisle about mid way. I may be able to shoot some handheld from the corners of the front of the stage. I have a 70-200 f2.8 that I was thinking of using but I'd love some input as to white balance, lenses, technique, etc. I am new to the biz and have never shot anything like this before. Any advice is greatly appreciated!
Can you shoot a rehearsal? That would be the ideal way to get familiar with camera positions and focal lengths.
I would try spot metering to get the exposure in the ballpark checking the LCD for accuracy. Then shoot at 2.8 and a high enough ISO to get a fast enough shutter speed to stop action. If your camera or lens has IS, turn it off because you'll be using a tripod and IS does nothing for subject movement.
If you can attend more than one performance, use the second as a way to catch angles and moments that you missed during the first performance.
Advanced stage lighting uses coloured gels on all lighting instruments and all are also on dimmers. The dimmer the light, the lower the colour temperature, so white balance may change drastically from one area of the stage to another, or the same area from moment to moment. At a high-school, budget and the director's level of training will determine the sophistication of the lighting. It could range from simple bare lights to the situation above.
If it is simple bare lights, a tungsten/incandescent setting would be all that is needed. However, if the lights are on dimmers and have gels, best would be to shoot RAW and do the white balance in processing. Aim for a compromise between the mood set by the coloured light and the need for good flesh tones.