Last Day of Work: Theater Jobs

With the conclusion of my undergraduate degree also comes the end of the jobs I have worked since my first years at university that became a big part of my experience and life: two ushering jobs on campus.

After my first term of my first year, I wanted to get a job now that I was confident enough in my academics to tackle on other activities. To be honest, I applied for so many jobs that when I went to interview at Gammage, I forgot what the position was for. Gammage Auditorium a professional theater venue on campus that hosts many events, its primary being touring Broadway shows. When I was younger, my parents (in fact, just a few months before I was hired I saw Evita at the very theater) took me to these shows and in my senior year of high school I grew especially fond of Les Miserables, so needless to say the idea of getting this job excited me greatly. To my surprise, I got the job as a floor manager and my first run where I trained on the job was Blue Man Group. As a floor manager, I’m basically a glorified usher: I scan tickets, direct people around the building, answer questions, I’m the first line of fire against problems or concerns and do light housekeeping. We also have volunteer ushers (the waiting list is about three years long), who seat people inside the massive house of over 3,000 seats. Although I was overwhelmed by a lot of little things to remember, I like to think I got the hang of things rather quickly. Most everyone in my position were also student workers, so they were all easy to talk to. However, that means we had a lot of turnover throughout the years as people leave for other jobs or obligations or they graduate and move on to bigger and better things. I’m convinced that this is one of the best jobs a student can have: the weekday hours are only in the evening and for only about five hours at a time, you can block off dates you don’t want to work or have shifts picked up or traded easily through the online portal, likewise, there are a lot of chances to pick up extra hours through the same portal, you can do homework on the job as long as there are no patrons around and if you work both Broadway shows on the weekend, you get paid over your lunch break and they pay for your meal. Gammage has been so great to me and I’ll miss the shows, my coworkers and my bosses after my last day on Sunday!

Thanks to Gammage, shows I’ve seen (in order) include: Blue Man Group, Once, Jersey Boys, Kinky Boots, Pippin, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Dirty Dancing, Cinderella, Chicago, Mowtown, Caberet, The Sound of Music, Beautiful, Mamma Mia!, The Illusionists, Matilda, Finding Neverland, An American in Paris and The Book of Mormon.

However, my hours at Gammage were really sporadic (about 10 hours per week), so I wanted another source of income by my sophomore year. With that, I was hired as an usher for the student art school which encompasses art, dance, music and design. Several people from Gammage have also been hired here because the boss is familiar with what we can do as an assistant house manager at Gammage in addition to being the box office specialist at the school of music. This is similar to my job at Gammage, but it’s more low maintenance and our audiences are only a few hundred patrons rather than a few thousand. I can also do work on the job here and I only work about three hours at a time on nights and weekends.

Both my jobs were kind enough to have me back after my study abroad experience, although I had to be retrained at Gammage since I was gone so long (funny enough, people I trained before I left ended up training me upon my return). Between my two jobs, I ended up working about 15-20 hours per week during my sophomore and senior year. This allowed me to have pocket money for concerts, food, shopping and traveling as well as some money to save. The last week of senior year was definitely the most stressful time to be a student worker: both my jobs needed me and I had more projects to complete and exams to study for than I cared to think about. Although they let me do work on the job, sometimes we have a lot of late patrons who can only be seated between numbers that arrive through intermission, only giving me about an hour to do work while the show blares over the lobby speakers. With two jobs and being a full-time student, prioritization was non-existent most weeks. While I try to have a good balance of coursework, work, exercise, socializing, cooking and housekeeping, reading, relaxing, etc., some weeks that was simply not possible, so I would become a hermit and just go straight from class, to work, to home, to bed and repeat the cycle, not being able to talk to anyone or eat proper meals (butter toast was my select struggle meal of the week).

Although sometimes the sacrifices were greater than I intended, I’m lucky to have had jobs that made my undergraduate experience so fruitful. Besides, without them, I would probably be bored shitless. 


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