By Clinton Dick
Editor in Chief
From the sleepy college at the top of the hill to the bright lights of New York City, Brooke Rowzee, class of 2010, has been busy in the theatre world. After a wild journey to the Big Apple, she returns to Southwestern as the stage manager for the upcoming musical production of “Sweeney Todd” in March.
Rowzee graduated with a degree in theatre performance in 2010 and spent the following summer in Santa Fe, N.M. working at the Santa Fe Opera. It was there that she decided to move to New York City.
“I had never been there or anything before,” said Rowzee. “I never thought I would get to go there, let alone move there.”
She didn’t have a job going into the big city, but she wasn’t out of work for long. “The night I flew in, I got an assistant stage managing position for one of the festivals there,” said Rowzee. “It didn’t pay much, but I figured I needed to make some connections.”
Making connections was just one method Rowzee used in order to keep busy in New York. “I was proactive in finding jobs,” said Rowzee. “I got other jobs by word of mouth and by posting on Playbill.com.”
Much of Rowzee’s work came while being a stage manager intern for a year at The Juilliard School, a world renowned performing arts school in Lincoln Square. “I actually got to stage manage shows there,” said Rowzee. “I am using a lot of paper work that I had there for ‘Sweeney Todd.’”
Juilliard wasn’t the only resume-builder during Rowzee’s impressive career in New York City. For one month, she got to work in the Broadway production of “Wicked,” a musical about the witches of Oz. Rowzee was a stage manager intern.
“I didn’t call the show, but I got to shadow the stage managers and any other department I wanted to,” said Rowzee. “I assisted the stage manager with office work as well and I got to learn stage management as well as all of the other departments. The connections I got from that were huge.”
Despite her success in the big city, Rowzee said she wanted to come back to Winfield and stage manage before she became equity. Actors’ Equity Association is a union for actors and stage managers. “Once you become a part of that, they have strict rules on what you can stage manage,” said Rowzee. “I really wanted to work with Roger and Allyson (Moon) again and be a mentor to the students here.”
She got her chance with “Sweeney Todd.” “I was free in my schedule and I thought it would be great to come here and put together the things I learned at Juilliard and ‘Wicked’ here at Southwestern,” said Rowzee.
Roger Moon, associate professor of theatre, said there were several students who had an interest in becoming stage managers this past spring and that Rowzee had expressed in coming back and mentoring. “We have never hired a guest stage manager,” said Moon. “We found out she was kind of in this gap, and so it worked.”
Now that she is back, Rowzee has plenty of responsibilities in making the rehearsals and shows run smoothly. Moon said he admires Rowzee’s level of creativity, organization and foresight. “She has created some new structure for communication and now it is on Facebook,” said Moon. “She just finished the sheet for every scene, every song, every character broken down by rehearsal. It is a staggering number of hours, but she runs the show.”
Moon is the director for “Sweeney Todd,” but takes away nothing from Rowzee’s intense work. “My job is to direct. I’m not coaching from the sidelines, I’m not doing anything,” said Moon. “She runs rehearsals, runs the performance and knows everything. If someone has a question, they go to her.”
As for Rowzee, she works 11 to 12 hours a day, but says it is very nice to have a change of pace from the big city to the quiet college. “It is nice to breathe a little bit,” said Rowzee. “It is nice to meet new people in the department and tell them my story and it is nice to come back to something familiar.”
Above all, Rowzee hopes to be an inspiration to those around her. She isn’t afraid to tell those who will listen the importance of taking risks. “One of the things I hope to inspire in coming back is telling people it is ok to take the risk and go for your dream,” said Rowzee. “It is the risk you take and being proactive.”
Clinton Dick is a senior majoring in convergent journalism. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org