My summer at the Circus

My lovely view every morning from the parking garage. Such a beautiful place to work.

My lovely view  of Music Circus every morning from the parking garage. Such a beautiful place to work.

This summer I had the privilege of working for California Musical Theatre (CMT), a company that I have loved ever since I was a child. I worked as the Marketing and P.R. professional assistant during CMT’s Music Circus season. These few past months were the most educational and enjoyable summer months I have ever had. I worked for a nationally renowned theatre company that is highly respected for their production quality and professionalism and I became a member of a company that inspired me since I was starry eyed kid in love with the theatre. This summer was unforgettable.

Our five productions and the playbills I worked on for each.

Our five productions and the playbills I worked on for each.

My history with CMT began when I was a young child and my family and I began attending Music Circus productions when we moved back to the Sacramento area in 2002. Each time I remember leaving the Circus dazzled by the theatre magic and counting down the days until I would be able to return. Now as my summer position with CMT has ended, I find the same feeling of giddy and hopeful return to this spectacular company fill me once again.

As the Marketing and P.R professional assistant my biggest responsibility was helping gather playbill content for our five productions. This entailed reaching out to actors, designers, directors and production staff members for everything ranging from headshots, licensing rules for playbill instructions, to bio edits and approvals. Overall I made contact with over 130 people for content information in just the first two months of working. My responsibilities were intimidating at the start, but the CMT marketing team was always supportive when I needed their help.

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My first day in my new desk with my fancy dancy new badge.

I’d love to share some of my summer highlights:

  • My first day: When I sat down at my desk for the first time and the dazzle of the company introductions began to subside, I started to realize the amount of work that laid ahead of me. I was given high expectations to reach for when producing my work and I found these standards very motivating. In each task I was given, I was challenged to develop skills that are crucial for a profession in marketing and P.R. I feel I improved in my professional work as I successfully achieved each goal that was set before me.
Me with "South Pacific" cast members John Cudia and Jeff Skowron waiting for their News 10 interview.

I just had to take a selfie with the extremely talented “South Pacific” cast members John Cudia and Jeff Skowron.     :D

  • Our cast meet and greets: These were opportunities where I was able to introduce myself to the actors and designers that I had been bugging for playbill content for weeks! Each person was kind and gracious during the detailed editing process and most importantly generous in their patience with me when I made mistakes.
  • Our five summer productions: These included A Chorus Line, Mary Poppins, South Pacific, Brigadoon and La Cage aux Folles. Each show was as fantastic as the last. Mary Poppins was especially exciting because it made its premiere performance on a round stage under the direction of Glenn Casale, CMT’s Artistic Director.
Kelly McCormick as Mary Poppins in mid-flight at the Wells Fargo Pavilion during a Fox 40 interview.

Kelly McCormick as Mary Poppins in mid-flight at the Wells Fargo Pavilion during a Fox 40 interview.

  • Publicity interviews: I accompanied one of our marketing directors on several TV interviews with cast members from each of our productions. These were educational because I was able to observe professional interviews and learn about vital tactics for P.R. management. During the times before the interviews, I was able to get to know some of the actors more personally. It was a pleasure to meet such talented artists who were kind, down-to-earth and friendly.

    News 10 interview by Dan Elliot for "La Cage aux Folles" leads Brent Barrett and Alan Mingo, Jr.

    News 10  anchor Dan Elliot interviews “La Cage aux Folles” leads Brent Barrett and Alan Mingo, Jr.

  • And last but certainly not least, our amazing opening night parties: After every opening Tuesday night, Music Circus hosted a party for cast, production and staff members to attend. They were always way too much fun. At our last party for La Cage aux Folles the production stage manager Craig Horness came in full drag! One word: Fabulous.

Though my summer at CMT has ended, my journey has been one of extreme growth and absolute enjoyment. The professional assistant job deepened my passion for theatre and provided insights into a potentially amazing profession in theatre marketing. Each day I learned more and was met with respect and kindness by every member of the CMT family. I realize how lucky it is to have worked for a company that is filled with caring and talented people. Each day I made incredible memories, but even more so incredible friends.

Last day at CMT, lunch with co-workers, and don't miss the fabulous Craig Horness in drag at the "La Cage aux Folles" cast party.

Last day at CMT, lunch with co-workers and the fabulous Craig Horness in drag at the “La Cage aux Folles”  finale cast party.

At the end of this summer, and even at the end of each day, I was able to leave CMT feeling completely fulfilled and completely grateful. It has been a true pleasure of mine to discover a new theatre family at a company that has made such positive impacts on my life in countless ways both past and present.

For more information about California Musical Theatre visit their website or follow them on social media via Facebook and Twitter.

CMT's next show through their Broadway Series is "Jersey Boys." Tickets are on sale now!

CMT’s next show through their Broadway Series is “Jersey Boys.” Tickets are on sale now!

 

 

 

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One Big Happy, Music Circus Family

The Wells Fargo Pavilion at night, the home of Music Circus.

The Wells Fargo Pavilion at night, the home of Music Circus.

“The people of Sacramento have art and the love of live performances in their souls!”said Richard Lewis, president and C.E.O. of California Musical Theatre (CMT).

Richard Lewis, President and C.E.O. of California Musical Theatre

Richard Lewis, President and C.E.O. of California Musical Theatre

In my current position as the summer marketing professional assistant for CMT, I have had the pleasure of meeting and working for Lewis and his employees in the P.R. and marketing department. I’ve been helping produce marketing content for Music Circus, which is CMT’s summer season. I’ve had the extreme privilege of getting to know and getting to love CMT and its wonderful employees and have, for but a short time become a quick member of this family. This summer has not only been the biggest learning experience I have ever had, but also the most enjoyable.

As a part of my internship, I was invited to attend weekly master classes given by CMT members or visiting artists who were participating in the summer shows. One of the first speeches was given by Lewis.

He spoke about many things including the trials and triumphs he experiences while running a nationally recognized nonprofit theatre company. CMT hosts productions at two theatres in Sacramento: the Wells Fargo Pavilion (home of the Music Circus summer stock season) and the Community Center Theater (home of the Broadway Sacramento touring series).

 Here is a quick summary of Music Circus history:

       Music Circus was founded in 1951 by Russell Lewis (Richard’s father) and Howard Young. It was established as the first “tune-tent” west of the Mississippi and only the fourth in the entire country. The stage is set as a circle, placed in the center of the venue as the audience surrounds the stage. As the first summer shows began, Music Circus quickly premiered as a huge success and soon began to present Broadway tours to Sacramento in 1982. Many actors began their careers performing under the tent such as Joel Grey, Eileen Brennan and Madeline Kahn. While the programs had popular celebrities in their productions, there was still a balanced mix of local talent performing at Music Circus. This is a tradition that continues today.

Music Circus before the renovations of the new facilities.

Music Circus in 2001, before the renovations of the new facilities.

Music Circus operated under a literal circus tent (hence the name) until 2003 when the canvas tent was replaced by the Wells Fargo Pavilion equipped with air conditioning. There had been no working air conditioning in the outdoor venue for over 50 years! Now named the Wells Fargo Pavilion due to naming rights, the site where Music Circus operates is still as popular as it was the day it began, if not more. And Sacramento has been blessed with the exciting culture of art and live performances for 64 years and counting.

Ribbon cutting ceremony at the Wells Fargo Pavilion in 2003.

Ribbon cutting ceremony at the Wells Fargo Pavilion in 2003.

When I listened to Lewis speak about CMT, he was inspiring. I learned intimate details about a theatre company that I grew up attending. I attribute much of my love for theatre to CMT as it helped to shape and feed my growing passion for performing when I was a young child. I have now found myself as one of their members and I continue to grow under its guidance to this day and for that I am extremely grateful.

As C.E.O. of a large nonprofit theatre company, you can imagine the challenges Lewis must face while trying to keep his head above harsh economic waters. He described the woes of dealing with city politics and tough economic times as being the hardest part of his job. But his main concern as C.E.O. he said was, “providing a strong financial base to support the company and to support the people who work here, who are our most valuable assets.” Lewis described CMT as a collaborative community where everyone’s voice is heard and appreciated.

He shared an anecdote about a particular occasion when CMT staff came together in an effort to survive the most recent recession.

“We were trying and trying to figure out ideas, and we just couldn’t figure out a plan,” said Lewis. “So one day, we gathered all of the employees, got some pizza, and sat down in a room and asked for help. And by the end of that meeting, we had a couple of pages of ideas on how to save our company.”

The company-wide collaborative effort, led CMT to cut their summer shows to five shows of one week productions instead of the usual seven and to have a week off in between each production. And because of that adjustment, CMT has had three years out of the recession of strong financial stability. It is evident in this example that CMT treats every individual as a valued participant in the future of their company. Their opinions are heard and more importantly, they contribute to the overall success of the organization.

The cast of "Brigadoon" which ran August 5-10 this summer at Music Circus.

The cast of “Brigadoon” which ran August 5-10 this summer at Music Circus.

To continue to strive financially, the Broadway Sacramento Series helps subsidize the Music Circus summer season. The subscribers to season tickets also play a crucial role. Broadway Sacramento has around 12,500 season subscribers, and Music Circus has around 9,600. Lewis says that one day his goal is to have Music Circus be a self-sufficient entity. He knows that can happen because CMT has a national following and Music Circus is known as the oldest continually operating professional theatre-in-the-round in this country. CMT’s reputation for supporting and taking care of their actors and production staff is also another attraction for new and returning summer stock employees. The quality work that Music Circus produces continues to spread their esteemed reputation around the country.

 Here are three crucial things to take away from this article upon finishing:

 1)      California Musical Theatre is a hugely successful and nationally recognized nonprofit company that has been running the oldest continually operating theatre-in-the-round in the country.

2)      Their reputation for quality work and care for their actors and staff is something to strive for in any company.

3)      The care and attention paid to their employees is rare to find in a large company, and is something extremely valued.

        CMT is not a company estranged from its employees, it is a company that not only asks, but listens to their employees and regards everyone involved as a part of one big happy, Music Circus family.

Music Circus' current production of La Cage aux Folles. Tickets are still available.

Music Circus’ current production of La Cage aux Folles. Tickets are on sale now!

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NEW DEVELOPMENTS! A new job :)

For the 2014 summer, I am the marketing assistant for California Musical Theatre. CMT is a non-profit organization that governs over two theatres in the city of Sacramento: the Wells Fargo Pavilion (which hosts the Music Circus summer season) and the Community Center Theater (which hosts the Broadway Sacramento touring series). As the summer assistant, I have the opportunity of working for the program, Music Circus, and helping out in the P.R. and marketing department for the summer shows.

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Best response to losing in the Tony’s EVER.

Oh, Chris O’Dowd, go home you’re DRUNK.

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