Undergrad Student Discovers the Business Side of Broadway
Management information systems major Matthew Meeks, '17 BSB, has closed the curtain on an internship with WICKED in New York City. As he returns to Minneapolis, he reflects on his experience working behind the scenes on one of Broadway's biggest plays.
What did your internship entail?
Meeks: I assist the stage management department with preparing for the performance. During the actual performance, I trail and assist various people in each department so I can understand how all of the departments work together to make WICKED happen eight times a week.
How did you find this opportunity?
Meeks: I found the internship by writing a snail mail letter. I wrote the Gershwin Theatre saying that I was interested in shadowing the stage managers on the show. After I shadowed them, they told me about the internship program. I applied and was accepted.
What do you like most about your internship?
Meeks: I love that I help make the performance happen for 1900 people; then I walk out the stage door and nobody has a clue who I am. It's a great feeling.
Given this experience, how do you picture your career after graduation?
Meeks: I want to pursue stage management and see the adventures that it can take me on. I've already met and worked with some incredible people and I want to continue doing that.
What's your best advice for business students looking to break into opportunities in the arts?
Meeks: I've got two pieces of advice: Use the networking skills that Carlson teaches you because it is all about who you know in this business. And don't forget that the arts still need business people. We need finance to keep track of the money coming in and out of the show, we need supply chain people to figure out how many Playbills to order, we need managers to run the business side of the show. It's not just actors and crew.
Any lessons or classes that have come in handy, thus far?
Meeks: The group projects that Carlson students work on have helped me the most. Theatre is a truly collaborative art and so you have to know how to work with different personalities, have an understanding of what everyone in the building does, and work together to keep the show running as consistently as possible.
Has this experience driven you to start your career in New York or another big city?
Meeks: I'll go where the work is whether that be in New York, Minneapolis, on tour, or wherever else they might need me.
Anything else you'd like to share about your experience?
Meeks: As a fan of the show, it is incredible to get to work on it. I’ve gotten to know the show on a much deeper level. In addition, it is so much fun to get to know the people behind the show that make it happen. The Gershwin is full of wonderful, interesting, and dedicated people. By the time I finish I will have seen the show 40 times and I am nowhere close to being tired of seeing it.