After starring in Muse Machine productions including Damn Yankees, Rob stage managed shows off-Broadway and around the country. Recently, he began work as a Production Manager at Signature Theatre Company, an off-Broadway house that works closely with playwrights as they stage original works. At Signature, Rob coordinates communications between producers, creatives, and the front of house, as well as supervising physical elements of the show like lighting, sets, and costumes. Below, Rob chats with his 18-year-old self.
ROB, AGE 18: Hi Rob!
ROB, AGE 35: Hi Rob!
I hear you’re not acting anymore. What gives? What about our dreams? I mean I guess it’s cool to be employed and have health insurance and all, but you know, we were gonna be a star by now!
Well, being a star isn’t everything. And I’m still very much in contact with really talented actors, people that do a lot of Broadway. It’s not my job to give them direction or focus, but I’m in the room, and we’re working with the top tier of talented living playwrights. Essentially my job is to ensure we’re realizing a writer’s specific vision for a show, so I get to work with directors and designers and technicians too, in a way that most actors don’t. To be fair, I have to do boring stuff too, stuff like payroll. But those things are important. They keep the ball rolling. And even the boring stuff gives you a warm glow when you know it’s helping to advance a really great artistic project… sometimes.
Well when you put it that way, that sounds like a pretty cool job.
So how’d we get that job anyway?
Well, after I left NYU (that’s where you eventually decide to go to school by the way), I staged managed all kind of shows. I did a lot of opera. I went to the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh with a show called (I am) Nobody’s Lunch about what Americans were thinking and feeling leading up to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. I filled in for a Frankie Valli concert once…
Wait, hold on. Frankie Valli?!
Yeah. Funny story actually. I introduced myself to him before the show, just, “Hi Mr. Valli I’m Rob; I’m covering for so-and-so tonight blah blah blah.” And he responds, “Do you pray?” I was sort of taken aback, so I just said “…Sure, I pray,” and he takes me onstage and the band is all standing in a circle and he says, “Hey God! Thanks for letting us make beautiful music for all these people. Amen.” After the concert ended, he swatted me on the behind and said “Great show, kid!” and then I never saw him again.
That is incredible. I can’t wait until that happens to me… us… this is a very confusing situation we find ourselves in, Rob.
It most certainly is, Rob. But I’m glad we had a chance to talk, and I’m glad you spent so much time at Muse back in the day. Having that community was important for me. I felt kind of on the fringe sometimes, but not at Muse Machine. And working with directors like Nat and David gave me an appreciation or a high level of work that I don’t think you get in the typical high school drama club. The tendency when you’re working in New York is to say, “I’ve made it,” and to get complacent. But working at such a high level when I was so young instilled a desire for excellence that I’m really grateful for. And in case you’re wondering, yes, you do still have friends from Muse Machine at age 35. So you’ve got that to look forward to.
Cool! Bye Rob.