BWW Blog: Hillary Reeves of Camp Broadway - 10 Things I Wish Someone Told Me About Theater As A Kid
At Camp Broadway, I get to meet so many kids, parents and families who continue to give me new insights on their journeys as performers or theater-lovers. But I also have the added perspective of getting to meet industry professionals throughout the year when camp isn't necessarily in session. I get to attend conferences, meetings and networking events with producers, marketers, creatives and more.
Being at the crossroads of these two key points of the industry has helped me to learn a lot about theater--the art form, the hobby and the industry-- and there are some things I definitely wish I had learned sooner. Here are 10 things to consider as you move toward making your dent in our little community called Broadway. I wish someone had shared these with me sooner!
1. It's not all song and dance. When you say you want to work in the theater, people assume that means you want to be a performer, which I find unfortunate. There are so many jobs in the theater that, now that I know they exist, I wish I could have pursued in college. Spend a day with some stage hands or orchestra members backstage and you'll know what I mean-- what a fun bunch!
2. You can be one of those people. Part of what attracted me (and I think attracts a lot of people) to the theater is the built-in glamour. Lights, make-up, gowns... it all feels very unattainable from your childhood home on Long Island, or it did for me. Then suddenly you're interning for a show as a freshman in college and you get invited to an opening night gala. That's the exciting moment when you realize that it's all within your grasp!
3. You also might meet Julie Andrews one day, so have something smart to say. This happened to me when I was working the merch counter for a show. I'm not usually lost for words, but at that moment, I realized why famous people prepare acceptance speeches for the Tony's. Introduce yourself, at the very least (so you don't kick yourself years later!).
4. You *will* tire of Times Square. For a long time, I tried to be one of those people who always saw the bright side. "Times Square is so quintessentially New York!" I'd say. "I'll never get tired of being here!" And then you'll wait 45 minutes for a coffee at Starbucks while being constantly asked if you like comedy. It's OK to have a little bit of cynicism sometimes!
5. People want you to be successful. Everyone always talks about how cut-throat our industry is, and full of rejection. But you have to realize that whether you're walking into a job interview or an audition, everyone who feels like they're judging you actually would really love for you to be perfect for the role/job. If you're not right, it's not personal. But if you are right, it's because of who you are. So never pretend to be someone you're not just to please someone-- it will come back to bite you!
6. If you're going to survive in this business nowadays, you need to be obsessed with Next to Normal. Also, don't ever admit that you're not completely versed in the works of the holy Trinity: Fosse, Sondheim and Garland.
7. If you can, work on a tour. Sure, New York is magical, but travelling around the country (or, better yet, the world!) to see what theaters are like outside of the big apple will give you priceless insights. Yes, you may get sick of living out of a suitcase and eating at local diners every night, but you'll develop lasting friendships and professional contacts.
8. School isn't for everyone. Education is. Try to understand the difference between valuable learning and killing time. Never stop learning, whether that means college, internships, taking up a hobby, etc. You might not go straight to college after high school, but that doesn't mean you never will. And it definitely doesn't mean you're no longer a student!
9. Don't have a "back up plan." Don't have a plan at all. Have goals and know what you want to achieve. Then, work hard and learn everything you can. Your path might take turns along the way, but when you open yourself up to new possibilities, you learn things you never knew you wanted to know.
10. Be kind. As a teen, this felt like an obvious, abstract concept for me. As an adult, I have a whole new understanding of the importance of being kind. Don't take people for granted. Thank everyone for what they do. Make an effort to spend time with people (family, friends, colleagues) whose company you enjoy. You can be strong without being tough. You can stick up for yourself without being mean.
Now go out there and set this town on fire!