Posted: Friday, December 6th 2013 at 9:07am
GTA theatre student realizes dream by winning semester-long internship on Broadway
Emily Taylor (left) poses with friends and props from “Wicked” at the show’s 10th Anniversary party.
GAINESVILLE - When 14-year-old Emily Taylor visited New York for the first time with family, she looked around and made a vow to herself: “I will work here when I grow up.”
In the meantime she worked her way through high school while working for a preschool and tackling various jobs in the school theatre department. She came to Gainesville Theatre Alliance, which is the University of North Georgia's and Brenau University’s Theatre Department, as a freshman in January 2010 to hone skills that could possibly get her a job in the Big Apple. She felt that even though GTA was just a few miles from home, it had the reputation for equipping theatre artists who actually went on to work paid jobs in the theatre – something many parents wonder about.
Fast-forward to September 28, 2013, when Taylor found herself working on Broadway for the hit musical “Wicked” as the show’s stage management intern.
“I have to pinch myself to remember that this is really happening,” she admits.
Taylor was quickly drawn into stage management, even though she was primarily a performer in high school. After being an assistant stage manager for two shows during her first semester, she realized this was her nitch and knew that a strong work ethic and determination were key. During her second semester at GTA, she asked to stage manage the November musical, typically GTA’s largest and most complicated show of the season. With few stage managers “in the pipeline” at that time, she won the job for “Hairspray.”
Stage management involves helping directors through weeks of rehearsal to get shows “on their feet,” and then taking full responsibility for all details of cast and set entrances and exits, and “calling” all sound and lighting cues during each performance. Taylor likes the responsibility, but she is especially drawn to coaching and encouraging cast and crew members.
“What makes her so amazing,” explained mentor and UNG professor Celeste Morris, “is that she’s a dynamic people person; always a step ahead and knowing what you need before you actually need it. She also has a quiet, calm authority which is recognized by her peers as well as the professionals that GTA brings in as guest artists.”
Taylor's work with guest artists is part of what lead to her internship with “Wicked.” David Rossetti, who was GTA’s guest choreographer for “Hairspray” and who lives and works in New York, gave Taylor a recommendation that helped her win a summer job with the Berkshire Summer Theatre in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, for the summer of 2012. After working at GTA last fall on “The Producers” with Atlanta-based Actor’s Equity members, Alan Kilpatrick and David DeVries, they helped her get the job as Stage Manager for the same show at Atlanta’s Lyric Theatre.
A friend studying in New York passed Taylor's resume on to a guest instructor who happened to be one of the stage managers for “Wicked.” In July, while Taylor was working on “The Producers” at the Lyric, they called her for an interview.
“I made up my mind then that this is what I wanted to do,” she says.
On a Saturday afternoon, “Wicked’s” production stage manager called on a break between two performances to interview Taylor.
After the phone interview, she was promised another. She immediately contacted her adviser to figure out how to register for online classes and get credit for the internship work. When she got a second interview, the stage manager finished with “we’d really like to have you join us, but we need someone in two weeks” … to which Taylor answered “That’s fine. I’m prepared and ready to come.”
She flew out on Sept. 27 and found herself watching “Wicked” from the sound booth the next day. Her time with “Wicked” has been particularly exciting because, in addition to the normal running of the show, they have been planning a huge event celebrating “Wicked’s” 10th Anniversary on Broadway.
Her tenure there has included being part of a 10th anniversary feature with the cast and crew on the Katie Couric Show and The Today Show doing the stage management job.
Due to an unexpected turn of events, Taylor was invited to do two internships: she accepted the first 5-week contract and then the second became available when the original student they had lined up it was let go.
As her time in New York winds down, Taylor is planning to be back with family in Georgia in time for Christmas.
Her five-year plan is to be back in New York running a Broadway show. She’s working toward that end by contacting other production stage managers while she’s in New York, and keeping in touch with her original contact, David Rossetti, who recently arranged for her to shadow the production stage manager for “Annie.”
“You can’t let your fears hold you back, but have to believe in your abilities and training,” Taylor explains. “You also need to trust your mentors because they can guide you through those fears and you can be confident in your abilities.”
“I’ve realized you have to believe in yourself, and when other people begin to believe in you too… things happen. Internships are a great opportunity to discover what you want to do – and what you don’t want to do! -- and figure out how to get there.”
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