By Stephanie Pilipshen
College alumna Christy Ney described her life as an assistant stage manager for Broadway’s “Wicked” and shared her industry-wide wisdom in Mayo Concert Hall on Friday, Sept. 13.
“I am completely the exception to the rule,” Ney said.
Ney’s aspiration when entering the College was to become a television journalist. However, after an internship she had with New Jersey Television, she soon realized it was not for her.
When Ney realized she wanted to “learn a little bit more about theater,” she got an internship with a roundabout theater in New York City and was assigned the task of asking people over the phone to help fund the theater.
“I was learning again quickly that maybe this wasn’t where my heart lay. I didn’t enjoy cold calling people,” Ney said.
Although she was afraid to address the internship coordinators, Ney decided to thank them for the experience but express that it wasn’t for her. Instead, her “heart might lie in production.”
“You have to overcome your fears, if you’re ready for change to happen, and that’s what I did,” Ney said.
Two days later, “Sideman” — the show in the building Ney worked in — called her about a position as a production assistant. The internship coordinators whom she had confronted recommended her for the position.
As a production assistant for “Sideman,” Ney was introduced for the first time to what a stage manager is and does. Ney soon realized that stage managing was her new aspiration.
After “Sideman,” Ney had an externship with Disney Theatrics, which led to a full-time position for Ney after graduating.
“I’m living proof of the fact that internships can pay off,” Ney said. “Internships can lead to work and they’re going to answer questions for you. They’re going to tell you what you like, what you don’t like, how you want to be treated. They are going to help steer your path in ways you probably wouldn’t have imagined.”
Senior biology major Matt Luppino, who hopes to become a stage manager eventually, said he found Ney “very inspirational” and loved hearing about her internships. It gave him an idea of how he should approach the theater industry.
After four years of post-graduation travels around the country with the “Lion King” production, Ney got her current job as assistant stage manager on “Wicked.” As an assistant stage manager, Ney’s tasks are varied.
“It’s live theater, things go wrong — people get sick, people get injured,” Ney said. Therefore, Ney acts as a nurse, a counselor and tends to props when needed.
Working six days a week and eight or nine shows a week, “It’s a sacrifice when you’re in this business,” Ney said. However, she has all the love for theater and her job.