On Feb. 9, Jovon E. Shuck, production stage manager of the hit Broadway show Waitress, sat down with Niagara University students to discuss his line of work and answer some questions. The event was held in the Leary Theatre on campus and allowed students to learn more about the field from an accomplished professional.
Shuck plays a key role in the production of Waitress, a story of a woman in an unhappy marriage who sees a pie contest as her way out. Putting on a Broadway show takes immense planning and knowledge of the field, making this experience valuable for students who want to become production managers in the future.
The touring show employs nearly 45 people and hires over 100 locals in each city to help with setup and production each week. After hauling in several 53-foot tractor trailers with equipment, the cast puts on five shows before heading off to the next city. Although the traveling can be exhausting, Shuck made sure to emphasize that “every city is an adventure, a chance to do it again, to do it different and do it better.”
Shuck talked for 30 minutes about his experiences in the world of Broadway before opening the discussion to hear from the students. Senior class president Andrew Hayes spoke first: “Thank you so much for coming to Niagara University, I know you have such a jam-packed schedule and we all appreciate you coming in so thank you for that!”
Shuck then went on to explain that he enjoys getting away from the tour to experience the surrounding area and see what it has to offer. Speaking with Niagara University was an opportunity for him to spread his knowledge while also learning a thing or two about Buffalo.
“That’s the thing I like most about touring,” Shuck said. “I find myself curling in Buffalo at 11:30 at night with a bunch of people I never would’ve imagined I’d be here with.”
The small group of students discussed the tour and the behind-the-scenes aspects of what a production stage manager might do on a day-to-day basis. Shuck took his time answering each question in as much detail as he could, spending over an hour making students feel like they too could accomplish the same things he has.
Niagara University hosts events like this to develop its students on an experiential level. It provides several platforms for networking and connecting with successful professionals in specific lines of work. Speaking with Shuck helped students rationalize with the idea that they may one day be working their dream job alongside their role models.