New York, New York!

by Katy McGlaughlin

UI Stage Managers on BroadwayI think most theatre professionals at some time or other have dreamed about the Great White Way.

I don’t know that it is the place I want to land but I recently had a chance to take a deeper look when the University of Iowa graduate stage managers took a trip to the city. Over the course of a few days we got to meet, shadow, and have drinks with some really amazing stage managers in the city. We had people shadowing The Lion King, Aladdin, Wicked, Les Miserables, Something Rotten, Kinky Boots, Gigantic, Finding Neverland, Before Your Very Eyes by the Gob Squad, and The King and I. We also got to do several backstage tours and had meetings with general managers, theatrical producers, and various others. It was an amazing trip and a wonderful chance to explore the city.

I think the most important thing I learned is that no matter where or in what scale we are doing theatre, the job is the same. There are, of course, differences but the heart of what stage managers do is the same. I was lucky enough to shadow The King and I and Gigantic (a new musical, that was still in previews while I was there). I don’t know if these two shows could have been more different unless one was a straight play. Gigantic is a new musical that opened the season for The Vineyard, a non-profit off-roadway theatre and The King and I is a classic Rodgers and Hammerstein piece playing at Lincoln Center; one a musical set at fat camp and the other set in 1860’s Siam. In each booth stage managers called cues and on each stage the ASMs made sure that scene changes, costume changes, and prop hand-offs happened at the appropriate times. Even though I will probably never work on Broadway I now know that it is peopled with folks who are like me, that call “stand by” and “go” and double check their pre-show list just like I do.  

New York is an amazing city and Broadway is, well, Broadway so even though it isn’t the city for me it has infused me with the desire to approach all of the theatre I do as though it is the dream job, because it is.