Emily Taylor spent fall semester working as an intern for the hit Broadway musical "Wicked," thanks to experience and connections she gained via the University of North Georgia's theater department and Gainesville Theatre Alliance (GTA).
GTA is a unique collaboration between UNG, Brenau University, theatre professionals and the northeast Georgia community. Theater majors from both universities take classes together and work together on all production projects.
Taylor, who began her studies and UNG and transferred to Brenau to complete her degree, started working as a stage management intern for the Tony Award-winning "Wicked" in September.
"I have to pinch myself to remember that this is really happening," she said.
Taylor was a performer in high school, but found her niche in stage management after being an assistant stage manager for two GTA shows and stage manager for "Hairspray." Stage managers help directors through weeks of rehearsals, then handle all details of the cast and set during each performance.
Celeste Morris, an assistant professor of theater at UNG, said Taylor's interpersonal skills make her an excellent stage manager.
"What makes her so amazing is that she's a dynamic people-person," Morris said. "She's always a step ahead and knows exactly what you need before you need it. She also has a graceful authority that is recognized by her peers as well as the professionals that GTA brings in as guest artists."
Taylor's work with GTA's guest artists has helped her land summer jobs that have prepared her for the daunting task of interning for a Broadway production, including positions with the Berkshire Summer Theatre in 2012 and Atlanta's Lyric Theater in 2013. In July, the stage manager for "Wicked" called for an interview after a friend of Taylor's passed along her résumé.
"You can't let your fears hold you back, but have to believe in your abilities and training," Taylor said. "You have to believe in yourself, and, when other people begin to believe in you too, things happen."
When the first phone interview went well, Taylor contacted her advisor to register for online classes and get credit for the internship. At the end of the second interview, the stage manager offered Taylor an internship, but needed someone in two weeks. Taylor didn't hesitate, replying: "That's fine. I'm prepared and ready to come."
On a typical day, Taylor shadowed crew members from different departments: stage managers, dressers, make-up artists, master carpenters, and automation and sound crew. Taylor also helped understudy actresses rehearse their new roles, playing many of the other characters alongside professional Broadway actors. Taylor helped plan the show's 10th Anniversary on Broadway celebration and helped manage the cast and crew when they appeared on the Katie Couric Show and The Today Show.
"It is really as fun as it sounds," she said.
Taylor returned home to spend holidays with her family, but her five-year plan is to be back in New York running a Broadway show. She worked toward that end by reaching out to other production stage managers while in New York and had the opportunity to shadow the stage manager for "Annie."