Part of the Experience

Posted 14 June 2012 12:00 AM by Eric Neill

Growing up with a mother who is a performer and choreographer, I got to see firsthand the hard work it took to put together a performance. From planning what music to use, lights and sounds systems, costumes, auditions, rehearsals, the choreography and etc, it was such a long and well thought out process. The hours and the passion my mother put in to make sure that everything she was a part of was done as close to perfect as possible always amazed me. I thought all of this hard work over a course of months for sometimes just one performance that was two hours long, seemed a little crazy to me growing up, but it was what my mother did.

She always taught me to appreciate the arts as it helps people in so many ways whether getting away from ones daily stress for a few hours, reliving ones past, a date night out or a family bonding event. She was a part of someone’s experience and helped in the ways I just mentioned. I usually either sat backstage or stayed home when these shows went on. Then one night while I was backstage I was asked to help out in the front of house because of some sick calls and to assist while patrons were coming in. I had to quickly learn where were the restrooms, box office windows, exits, playbills and so on for when people asked I could assist them.

My training was done and it was time for the doors to open. Watching the excitement of people walking through the door together as a family and seeing couples holding hands I started to realize what my mother was saying all this time. Then came my first question to deal with and I took care of their needs and they thanked me. I said to myself, I was just a part of their experience. Then came intermission and I overheard someone talking about how moving and special one of my mother’s piece was and how it brought her to tears. And that was it, I had to be a part of the experience.

I have the privilege of being a part of hundreds of thousands of people’s experience on a annual basis. My part of the experience is to make sure that the people coming into the Theatre are comfortable, safe, can enjoy a clean environment and receive the best possible customer service we can give. I get to see parents bring their kids to a Theatre or show their parents brought them to. I get to see people come to a show like Grease and dress as the Pink Ladies and T Bird and get away from their daily stresses. I have had the privilege of helping over a dozen people plan to propose in our lobby because the couple’s first date was at our Theatre and it was special to them.

Today, over 20 years later, I still get to work from time to time with my mother, I met my beautiful wife, who is a performer, at one of my mother’s shows and I meet thousands of great people every year. To be a part of the experience is priceless.

Eric Neill is the Director of Theatre Operations at the Citi Performing Arts Center.

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