Theatre arts alumna Amber White ’01, the production stage manager for Hamilton: An American Musical’s Broadway production, got involved in theatre purely by chance – through a work study assignment at LMU. After a 16-year career that has spanned from small regional theaters to spending the last two years working on the Tony Award-winning musical, she’s continually grateful for the experiences that led her to where she is today.
It’s pretty amazing to think that Amber’s passion for theatre began on a whim. “I honestly think that if I didn’t go to LMU, I wouldn’t be working in theatre today,” she said. “I started school there as an accounting major, and I got a job as a work study student in the theatre. The people I met there were so warm and welcoming that I fell in love with theatre and became less interested in reading my Wall Street Journal. I got to know the chair of the department, and the professors in the department, and it really helped drive me.”
Amber eventually changed her major to theatre arts, and began stage managing shows at LMU. She is also a Del Rey Players alumni, where she served as technical director. After these formative experiences, it was at the suggestion of a fellow LMU student that she apply for a position as a professional stage manager, and she got the job. This was her first indication that theatre could be more than just a hobby for her – and 16 years after her graduation, it’s very clear she wasn’t wrong.
With experience working in theatre in Los Angeles, across the country, and even internationally, Amber is the logistical force behind the shows she works on, and her attitude contributes to the success of every show she’s worked on. Her duties range from calling cues to scheduling rehearsals, from coordinating understudies to keeping spirits and ambition high among the cast and crew. “It’s the people that I like the most. Just being a collaborator and a communicator in general is what draws me to the job. I like to problem solve and I like to work with other people and create a good work environment,” she said. “Every day, I have to deal with problems as they arise. But I love to work with people and figure out what’s the best way to keep a happy show and a happy family going.”
The experience working for Hamilton has been thrilling, not just from the day to day work on the critically acclaimed, box office record-setting show, but also from the work that much of the cast and crew do outside of the theatre. Hamilton created an education initiative, which is a program for 11th grade students to study American History during the years in which Hamilton takes place. The students then create their own piece of art and one student from each school is chosen to perform their piece on stage at a student matinee performance. This initiative was launched at the White House during the Obama Administration, and Amber visited the White House to meet the former President and First Lady, where the company performed a selection of songs from the show. According to Amber, this experience was so inspirational that it lives on at every student matinee of the show to this day.
Reflecting back on her experiences beyond the bluff, Amber had this to say, “Don’t ever get comfortable in your twenties and be sure to take every opportunity you can. New graduates should be taking every opportunity to try new things and figure out what suits them best. It’s not just about climbing the ladder to the highest position, it’s about gathering experiences. When you walk out the door, the only thing you leave behind is your reputation. Coworkers and collaborators aren’t only focused on who made the best spread sheet or even who called the best cues. They are going to remember how it felt to work with you.”