Emily Taylor arrived 45 minutes early to her first day as an intern on the set of the hit Broadway play “Wicked.”
The 22-year-old Brenau University theater major stood outside of the stage door on a September morning in New York City and gave herself a mental pep talk before entering.
“When I went in, I don’t want to say I was terrified, but I was scared,” Taylor said, after returning to her Gainesville home last month following her 12-week internship. “These people were stars in my eyes. They were celebrities who had achieved so much.”
Taylor, who plans to graduate in December 2014, expected to be treated “like an intern.” But she was pleasantly surprised by the amount of interest the cast and crew showed her.
“Instantly, as I walked in the door, people were talking to me and introducing themselves,” Taylor said. “I realized these people are normal people. They’re just like I am and they worked hard to get where they are.”
While her classmates spent their fall semester on campus, Taylor learned the ropes “in the real word,” working as a stage management intern on the show, which has been running for 10 years. Her responsibilities included helping directors through weeks of rehearsals, calling sound and lighting cues during performances and making sure cast and crew members had what they needed.
During her internship, Taylor called on her experience as a stage manager on college productions with the Gainesville Theater Alliance, the Berkshire Summer Theater in Stockbridge, Mass., and Atlanta’s Lyric Theater.
The Gainesville Theatre Alliance is a 34-year collaboration between the University of North Georgia and Brenau University and offers students the opportunity to work with industry professionals for each production through its guest artist program.
Jim Hammond, artistic and managing director of GTA, said the program has “paid dividends” for students like Taylor.
“That has meant to Emily that’s she’s had the chance to work with some of the region’s finest directors in the last three years that she has been stage managing for us,” Hammond said. “... There is this steady stream of gifted and talented artists that come in and work with our students.”
Hammond said the opportunities to work alongside professionals forced students to work hard and grow very quickly. It also provides opportunities to build a network before beginning their career.
Taylor said getting the internship was a matter of “knowing the right people, knowing someone who knows someone.” A friend studying in New York passed along her resume to an instructor who happened to be one of the show’s stage managers.
Taylor said working on the production was a goal she’s had since she first saw the show when she was in the eighth grade and visited New York with her family.
“I came out of the theater crying,” Taylor said. “ I looked at my mom and said ‘This is it. This is what I want to do. I’m going to work for them.’”
The most important lesson Taylor learned, apart from the real-world experience of working in a theater, was the affirmation she’s on the right path for her career and passions.
“The biggest thing I learned is who I am as a person,” Taylor said. “And that dreams do come true.”