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Michael Ritchie on Discovering Stage Management and Stage Managers

Michael Ritchie on Discovering Stage Management and Stage Managers
Photo Source: Craig Schwartz
Many years ago, before I ran the Williamstown Theatre Festival or Center Theatre Group, I was a stage manager. I had never been trained for that job, in either an academic or a professional setting. Because of blind luck, I ended up as a production stage manager on Broadway by the time I was 23 years old. I taught myself on the job (with all the attendant disasters one would expect). After stage managing in NYC for 10 years, I became the head stage manager at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. My assistants were all interns, most of whom were still in school and facing their first professional experiences. Having not been trained myself, we ended up teaching each other how to do the job. Many of those interns of mine went on to significant stage managing careers, including working in most of the major regional theaters and stage managing more than 35 Broadway productions. I would like to say that I "discovered" Barnaby Harris, Leila Knox, Grayson Meritt, Henry Meiman, Kelley Kirkpatrick, Alex Liu Volckhausen, and Barclay Stiff. But the truth is that they discovered me and made me phenomenally better at my job. I continue to learn from all of them.

On Jan. 1, 2005, Michael Ritchie became artistic director of Center Theatre Group. Here he premiered the musicals "The Drowsy Chaperone," "13," and "9 to 5: The Musical," and also presented the world premieres of "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson," "Sleeping Beauty Wakes," "Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo," "Water & Power," and "Yellow Face."

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