Shubert Theatre official Anthony Lupinacci said he was excited recently to see someone who recently went through the theater’s management internship program sitting among the pros helping assemble the national touring production of Broadway hit “Matilda the Musical.”
That would be Rachel Zwick, 19, a Southern Connecticut State University freshman from Northford who attended city magnet schools. She’s been working as a paid production assistant for about six weeks with the company that is building the tour at the storied theater.
“It’s so rewarding for us to see her actually sitting in the theater with the production people from the first national tour of the show. The way I’m viewing it, this is a rather unusal opportunity for someone so young.”
Kelly Wuzzardo, director of education for Shubert operator CAPA, said the theater partners with school officials to offer programs such as the management internship. And Zwick has also been an usher intern, tech apprentice at summer camp (working on rental shows at Co-Op) and a teaching assistant for summer camp. Advertisement
Zwick, in a phone chat during a break from work at the theater, described the scene of many laptops, cables and tables (which Lupinacci at one point said looked like “mission control”) in the theater audience area.
“There’s lighting and sound and projections, production management,” said Zwick, “and we all have our tables.”
Talk about a great experience, said Wuzzardo.
“She’s sitting in a room with people who have Tony Awards, you know what I mean?” said Wuzzardo. “It’s a huge deal for someone like her to get this kind of experience. And it’s going to be a huge deal on her resume to say… I worked the beginning of a national tour and worked with all these people.”
Zwick has been going on Home Depot and Lowe’s runs, doing other errands and working on purchasing orders and doing filing for the production, she said.
Wuzzardo recommended Zwick to show staffers who were looking for a PA.
“Because she’s been through the different internships, our management staff knows her, the tech guys know her. All the adults here have seen her come through as a kid… We all take pride in that, that everybody’s been able to contribute a little bit to her education and then, with full confidence, be able to recommend her to this real-deal show.”
“I didn’t even think that was something I could do,” Zwick said. “I thought you had to have a college degree for it. And for this to be my second semester of college and take on something like this is just so incredible, and I’m so grateful.”
Tony Award-winning “Matilda the Musical,” the story of an extraordinary girl who dreams of a better life, opens Saturday and runs through May 23 at the College Street theater, known as the “birthplace of the nation’s greatest hits.”
Zwick said she’s “trying to network and make connections and meet people, since this is something I want to be doing for the rest of my life.”
Zwick did shows every year at Cooperative Arts & Humanities High School in New Haven, serving as assistant director on one. She also did costuming and stage managing there and at community theater.
Being in the middle of it all for six weeks is an eye-opener.
“It’s definitely given me such a deeper appreciation of everything thay goes into building a national tour of a Broadway musical.”
In the management internship program, which at three to four weeks is more of an extended job shadow, Lupinacci said “we try to explain to them (that) if you really have a love for this business, don’t just give it up if you don’t become the next Barbra Streisand. You could do the technical work on the show, you could be a company manager, you could be a stage manager… work in the office.”
Wuzzardo said that at the 100th anniversary gala recently, the Shubert honored Eastern Connecticut State University student Jacari Santiago, who also has worked his way through Shubert programs and done some professional work.
“They’re both examples of kids,” said Wuzzardo of Zwick and Santiago, “who, when given these opportunities, have taken … full advantage. And it’s paying off. This is exactly why we do these things, because we want to introduce these kids to jobs that they may not have had access to.”
Zwick is no expert yet, but she said that based on seeing some “Matilda” tech rehearsals, “It is absolutely phenomenal. I highly recommend.”
In the fall, Zwick will spend a semester with the National Music Theater Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford.
About the Author – Joe Amarante, New Haven Register
Joe has been the TV editor, features writer, columnist, general assignment reporter and copy editor for some 35 years in New Haven, first with the Journal-Courier and then the New Haven Register. Follow Joe on Twitter: @joeammo.
05/11/15 – reprinted with permission of Joe Amarante, New Haven Register