From working backstage at the Gallagher Bluedorn, to managing stages around the country – UNI grad Beth Hicks is putting her skills to use in the career of her dreams.
Originally from Swisher, Iowa, Hicks came to UNI as a theatre major. Between her time at the Gallagher and in the Department of Theatre, she decided to focus her degree on design and production.
Hicks worked on the backstage crew the whole time she was at UNI. An important aspect of the training, according to Hicks, was making sure everyone had the same knowledge of the systems so there was competency and trust among the entire team. The backstage crew included people from all different parts of campus, so Hicks got to know lots of different people.
“Some of them are interested in this as a field now, and through connections, I’ve helped them get jobs,” said Hicks.
The variety of shows that came to the Gallagher Bluedorn were immensely helpful to Hicks’ learning – from Huey Lewis to country western. One memorable experience was when the Huey Lewis manager asked her if she wanted a cup of tea, and then proceeded to set up proper English tea for her, complete with cheesecake. She worked a few country western shows at the Dome getting extra experience with lighting and spots. Touring Broadway shows impressed her with how fast everything happened. Before a show is even done, they are packing things back up and putting them on the truck, so they come off in the right order at the next stop. It’s all very specific and ordered.
One of the most difficult things for a student in Hicks’ field is to not have enough work experiences on their resume. Working at the Gallagher Bluedorn gave her experiences in all aspects of running a show including light, audio, and even wardrobe changes in some cases. The larger touring shows provide critical experience for working in a fast-paced and organized environment.
Upon graduation, Hicks moved to North Carolina to work with opera summer stock. Her experience working with opera at the Gallagher Bluedorn was valuable to her new position as assistant stage manager.
More recently, Hicks has worked as assistant stage manager at the Philadelphia Theatre Company for a production of The Wolves.
Hicks’s stage management work involves being with the actors starting at the first day of rehearsal. She makes sure everything starts on time and serves as the main path of communication between the actors, director and design team.
“The technical process takes about a week to develop and then you have to make sure it works well with the show,” Hickssaid.
This includes sound and light cues and having everyone in place to make all things happen.
Hicks joined the Equity Theatre Union in August 2019 and became an Equity Stage Manager, where her work is never boring.
“You have to be very focused as you work, and the Gallagher Bluedorn very much prepared me for that because we were trusted to do real work, and build practical skills,” she said.
Written by Margaret Empie