So, you want to stage manage on Broadway. Great! Let a dreamer who is now a do-er of just that tell you how he got there. You’ll be inspired and get a few easy tips you can use.

Jereme Kyle Lewis has been stage managing on Broadway for 10 years. He says, “The work is hard. The road to get [to Broadway] is hard. But the payoff to be living my dreams and to be a working artist is worth all the late nights, all the times I was told no or when I didn’t get the gig.”

Some of his credits include M. Butterfly, directed by Julie Taymor, Caroline, or Change, and his current show, MJ the Musical. Lewis joined the stage management team for MJ the week of the Tonys, and in a bit of a whirlwind will be leaving soon to start work on his 11th Broadway show, New York, New York, composed by John Kandar and Lin-Manuel Miranda and directed by Susan Stroman. This will be the first show he has been part of from the beginning of production.

Stage Manage on Broadway: Q&A with Jereme Kyle Lewis

Black man looking to the side and laughing

Jereme Kyle Lewis

DRAMATICS: What is the hardest part of your job?

LEWIS: “The time commitment and schedule. There is so much we do outside of the standard eight shows a week. I’m here twice a week for understudy rehearsals and we are currently putting in replacement members of the company since we are in year two. I’m basically at the theater from 12:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. In addition, there is the matinee on Sunday and occasional rehearsals or an evening show on Tuesday.”

DRAMATICS: As a high school student, did you see yourself where you are right now?
LEWIS: “I knew I would be in theatre in some way, but never did I imagine I would be working on my 10th Broadway show. There are several days I find myself walking through Times Square to work and have to pinch myself to make sure it’s real! Truly living the dream and I am so humbled to be doing so.”

DRAMATICS: Can you pinpoint a specific moment in your career you felt like you had made it?
LEWIS: “I know the exact moment. The year 2013; the show The Trip to Bountiful. The moment it hit me, that I was living my actual dream, was when I called the show for the first time. I did my top of show check-ins, standbys, and called the opening sequence: the scrim rose, lights came up on Ms. Tyson sitting in a rocking chair humming a spiritual, and the audience burst into applause. In that moment I realized where I stood and what an honor and dream I was living.”

DRAMATICS: How do you deal with work/life balance?
LEWIS: “It’s a hard thing to do, but vital to surviving in this business. For me, it’s the little moments. If I have an hour break between calls, I take it—which can be hard to do because there’s always work that can be done. I do not answer emails on my days off. I fully disconnect and walk away. I meet friends who are working on other shows. I go for walks on 20-minute rehearsal breaks. I get my nails done, or go dancing. Pretty much anything to bring a smile to my face allows me to recharge so I can bring my best self to work the next day.”

DRAMATICS: What is a piece of advice for a high school student pursuing a career in theatre?
LEWIS: “Never say ‘no’ to yourself! In the early part of my career, I would send my resumé to anyone or any email address I could find attached to a theater. Through that I had some random opportunities. Even if it wasn’t directly related to stage management, I showed up and did the best I could. By saying ‘yes’ I got amazing hands-on experience. i got to learn nitty-gritty details of a gig that I would never learn from a textbook or class. And I got to network with working professionals who I am still friends with and work with on the regular. They have become my colleagues, my sounding board, my support, and my family.”

The arts industry provides so many people with so many opportunities to grow as an artist. By taking every opportunity given to you, you’re not only growing yourself but you’re growing a larger network of connections. From front of house work, to wardrobe, props, carpenters, electricians, stage door operators, company managers, and so many more. In theatre, doors usually close quicker than they open. Sometimes you must open them for yourself. If someone closes a door on you, find a way to open another. You owe it to yourself to keep growing your art. 

Sydney Stephenson is a writer and stage manager in high school. Go behind the scenes of her latest projects on Instagram @side.stage.with.syd.

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