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PEMCo Producers Bring ‘Kiss Me, Kate’ To Stage

Observer Scene | Friday, February 8, 2008

A casual theater-goer might wonder what a producer does. A better question would be, what doesn’t a producer do?

As one half of PEMCo’s team of co-producers along with Jacqui Acuna, Kathleen Sullivan differentiates between the role of the director and the role of the producer by separating the creative from the administrative. “The creative team [including the director, music director, choreographers, set designer, stage crew, etc.] is in charge of how the show looks and sounds,” she said. “We take care of everything else. The producers are there to support the staff, handle the budget, and, especially, keep everyone on a timeline. Basically, the producers make sure PEMCo puts on a show every year.”

Acuna and Sullivan also double as the club presidents of PEMCo. After winning election last February to a one-year term, Sullivan and Acuna chose Connor Nowalk as their director through an interview process last spring.

Over the summer, the producers and the director chose the show. After the success of last year’s show, “Ragtime,” Sullivan said she wanted to take PEMCo in a different direction this year.

“We decided to do ‘Kiss Me, Kate,’ a show with great Cole Porter music, because we wanted to do something upbeat and fun this year, as a contrast with last year’s very dramatic production,” she said. “We like to vary the type of shows we do, to keep it fresh for the audience and for the company.”Once we decide on a show, the producers are responsible for the administrative side of the company,” she said. “There’s a lot of work that goes into a musical, and most of it happens behind the scenes.”

Some of the many items on Sullivan’s never-ending laundry list include getting the legal rights to do the show, finding rehearsal and performance spaces, getting publicity, arranging ticket sales, determining the budget, making up programs and working with Student Activities.

Despite her current gig moonlighting as the woman working behind the scenes to make it possible for others to act on it, Sullivan originally got her start in show business as a performer. After performing since grade school, Sullivan joined PEMCo her freshman year as an actress.

Ever since, “the company has become very dear to me,” she said.

Sullivan also said that she has found purpose in producing for the good of the company that trumps even the experience of performing onstage.

“I see producing as a way to really work for the best interest of the company, to be able to influence its path more so than when I was a cast member,” she said. “Musical theatre is definitely an adrenaline rush, and I love being in the shows, but I’ve found producing almost more fulfilling.

“PEMCo producers are often in the cast my – co-producer is this year – but I like being able to take a step back and see the big picture. I get to sit in the audience on opening night and watch my entire cast and crew’s work pay off in a wonderful way. It’s a great feeling, knowing that I helped get them up on that stage giving great performances, and to me is actually more fulfilling than being in the show myself.”

Contact Tae Andrews at [email protected]