With the rate that Windy City Playhouse has been growing, it’s shocking that they only have six staff members! The newest full-time staffer is the Playhouse’s Production Manager, Alex Rhyan. We had the chance to go behind the scenes with him to learn a little more about his story and the work at the Playhouse leading up to KING LIZ.
You started at the Playhouse early in your career as a recent college graduate. How did you make the transition into helping this new theater produce its first season?
I had just graduated from Columbia College Chicago and any transition from academia to professional is always filled with new obstacles. Starting at the Playhouse, a new, young Equity theater, was a bigger step up in my career then I had ever imagined taking after just graduating. I had to quickly become familiar with the venue, the staff and the systems in which the Playhouse was operating on.
I know that this is not your first time working with a professional company in the city! How has your freelance career in Production Management helped you grow? Has that experience informed your work at the Playhouse?
I still pursued [those connections] while working at the Playhouse part time. This was one of the best things I personally did for my career. I knew the potential for growth at the Playhouse could come with time and I am very fortunate that it did after working here for 2 years. But I did not want to put all my eggs in one basket and also lose out on the opportunity to broaden my horizons. After every job, production and project I always look at what I could have done better and what worked.
Tell me a little bit about working at Windy City Playhouse. How does the intimacy of the space influence the work of designers?
The opportunity we provide designers is rare due to the size, flexibility, and intimacy with our audience. As a creative team, we work hard to overcome these three distinct features that in the end turn into challenges for us.
Now let’s bring that to KING LIZ! How would you say those challenges of the space impacted the work of your design team?
KING LIZ has a very strong and powerful team on and off the stage. I was so excited to work with this team, most of them new to the Playhouse. I had seen these designers’ work around town and was thrilled that they agreed to work with us… Everyone on the team was dedicated and went above and beyond their duties to execute what is one of our best shows technically. Throughout the tech process, the designers all handled obstacles with professionalism. In the end this process was as smooth as they get and the outcome did not fall short of our intentions. Everyone involved should be very proud of their work.
The challenges that designers meet to fill the space is part of what seems to make this a new and different experience for patrons. Chicago has a thriving theater community, and Windy City Playhouse is starting to find their own place within that. How would you describe the voice of The Playhouse?
Our voice is clear – Creating an intimate seating for an artistic affair. Leave your apartment, grab a friend and join us for an unforgettable night. We will do all the work. We will create an environment that is worth a night out and a place for you to drink, socialize and decompress. We will always surprise you. We are always going to be working on new experience to bring you.
Don’t just take Alex’s word for it, but come see for yourself! Embrace this unique experience with KING LIZ – must close July 16.