Megan Bosveld ’17 visited New York City this fall, to shadow fellow LMU Lion Amber White ’01 in her work as stage manager for Hamilton, An American Musical. We asked Megan to share her experience living a theatre major’s dream with us.
Being a theater major in any capacity, whether as an actor, designer, stage manager, or director, can be daunting. The pressure to “make it” deters many because the fear of “breaking it” proves to be too strong. But in theater, how can you even define what “making it” means? I can’t articulate this for everyone, but I can tell you that for me, it means working on Broadway. Broadway is THE dream, MY dream. I have never thought it would be an achievable dream for a soon-to-be college graduate with a background in stage management. However, this past Thanksgiving break I got to see a sneak peek of that Broadway magic I have dreamed about for years.
Jason Sheppard, my stage management professor and mentor, had mentioned my sophomore year that a graduate of LMU’s Theatre Arts Program, Amber White ‘01, was a stage manager on Broadway. And not just any Broadway production, but on Hamilton. Yes, THAT Hamilton. The original production, Lin-Manuel Miranda and all. Later that year, I was fortunate enough to listen to Amber talk about her work, including working on Hamilton, during a Skype session in Professor Sheppard’s stage management class. This past summer, Jason graciously connected me with Amber, and I was able to set up a shadow opportunity at the Richard Rodgers Theater where she is still stage managing Hamilton, two years after its opening on Broadway. This November, I traveled to New York for the first time to see Hamilton as well as shadow Amber during a matinee performance.
Seeing Hamilton was amazing. Shadowing Amber the following day was unforgettable. We met at the stage door of the theater and I watched her step through her show routine. Before the house opened, Amber took me onstage and showed me the hundreds of props and lights. Following that, we explored the small backstage wings where the costume pieces were hung and set pieces were flown midair to save floor space. She introduced me to the rest of the stage management team, some actors and crew members in other departments, all of whom were warm and welcoming. However, the full magnitude of being backstage at Hamilton did not hit me until I was wearing a headset and Amber was starting the show. She called the show via three screens, located backstage, 20 feet above the ground. I took turns between watching her, the screens and the actual stage. The more I watched, the more anxious I felt. There were points during the show where I do not know how Amber could breathe because she was calling hundreds of cues. She did it, calm, cool and collected like a pro. Following the conclusion of the show, Amber and I had a photo op onstage before I left the magic.
As I left the theater, I felt blessed for the once in a lifetime experience and motivated to return to New York for a job of my own. Hamilton was great, but getting to watch Amber, a talented and poised professional, do her job, was even better. I am so thankful to Jason, for his confidence in my professionalism, and to Amber, for letting me see the Broadway magic unfold. I can tell you I’ll be back!