Musings of a Broadway Manager
Margaret Skoglund, ATPAM
I got the call in 2013. Or, more accurately, I missed the call. Working as the department coordinator for ICM, I rarely had downtime for personal matters at work. While frantically typing an email pleading for more assistant weeks for a design client, I felt an incessant buzz in my blazer pocket and banished the caller to voicemail. I finally picked up the message during lunch while racing to Dig Inn on 53rd Street: “Margaret, we’d like to offer you a job as Assistant Company Manager of Mamma Mia! on Broadway.” I may have done a cartwheel on 5th Avenue. Only the doorman at the St. Regis will ever know for sure. I had wanted to work in theatrical management since attending Duke University when our instructor, and renowned Broadway producer, Manny Azenberg told me what it was. I returned the call, accepted the position, and have been lucky enough to work in Company Management ever since.
After Mamma Mia!, I opened and closed the revival of Side Show, toured with two fantastic Disney productions: The Lion King and Newsies, and made my way back to New York to open Tony-winning Once On This Island followed by Gettin’ the Band Back Together.
I now Company Manage a play Off-Broadway called Gloria: A Life, produced by Tony winner Daryl Roth and starring Oscar winner Christine Lahti, directed by Diane Paulus and written by Emily Mann. This project was spearheaded almost exclusively by women, which thrilled me. We get so used to these types of iconic photos featuring theater legends that we rarely pause and ask: "where are the women?" (to quote my show).
At Gloria, it was quite special to see a rehearsal hall not just sparsely studded with females but overwhelmingly comprised of them.
Stephen Sondheim, Arthur Laurents, Hal Prince, Robert Griffith, Leonard Bernstein, and Jerome Robbins for the stage production West Side Story.
From left: Christine Lahti and Gloria Steinem with Diane Paulus, the director of Gloria: A Life, and its playwright, Emily Mann. Photo: Nina Westervelt / The New York Times / Redux
Everyone involved in a project wants it to be good. From the writer to the assistant director to the company manager. What better way to make it good than by having as many different types of voices - women and men - in the room?