Posted: Thursday May 24, 2012
May 24, 2012
Five years after joining the Saint Vincent Summer Theatre staff as stage manager, Penny Lin Lambright feels like part of a great family.
The family culture of the Saint Vincent Summer Theatre was evident to her from her first visit. “I was working in entertainment operations with a cruise line which had just discontinued sailing two ships and I was expecting to be laid off,” Ms. Lambright recalled. “So, I put a notice on Facebook asking my friends if any of them knew of any job openings. Joe Reilly, the late artistic director, called me in Hawaii and asked if I would be interested in coming for an interview. I came immediately and thought the interview went great. I had told him that I had just gotten back to the states and hadn’t seen my family yet but would stay if he wanted to hire me and, if not, would drive to North Carolina to join my family for a vacation. He said that he thought I should go on vacation and my heart dropped because I thought I hadn’t gotten the job. Then, he turned around and pulled out three scripts for that summer’s shows and handed them to me. He asked me to read them while I was away with my family and to be ready to begin work the following week. Saint Vincent is family-oriented and understands the importance of your personal family and having a theatre family. The atmosphere is obvious here and everyone helps each other. It makes life pleasant and the theatre productions much higher quality.”
As stage manager, Ms. Lambright is responsible first and foremost for the safety of the actors, technical crew and patrons. But most of her time is devoted to running each theatre production and managing all of the myriad details that go into each show from music and sound effects to props, lighting and costumes. “I have to know everything at every point,” she explained. “I maintain communication among the actors, crew, artistic director and others who are involved. I make sure the artistic director’s instructions and preferences are implemented and that everything is on schedule.”
Saint Vincent Summer Theatre artistic director Colleen Reilly calls Ms. Lambright invaluable. “I don’t know how we could do it without her,” she commented. “I think of our founder, Fr. Tom Devereux, who was the hardest worker I ever knew. His least favorite phrase was ‘that’s not my job’ because he did everything from producing to cleaning the bathrooms. Penny has much of that same spirit in her and she is all about the good of the show. She fixes problems and that is essential to our success.”
Her most challenging, recurring problem is power outages. “This portion of the building has some old wiring and, if the power service trips a little bit, it goes out,” she related. “All of our systems are computerized so everything takes time to come back on. We have lost power prior to three shows and in the middle of one. Because it is unpredictable, I usually have my laptop on battery looking at the weather radar so I can be ready if it happens.”
While she enjoys spending May to August at Saint Vincent, she still works for Norwegian Cruise Lines on the Epic for the remainder of the year as wardrobe supervisor for The Blue Man Group. “I do special effects makeup for them,” she explained. “Working on a ship requires working long hours, sometimes 90 hours a week. They sail in the Mediterranean doing Italy, Spain and France for six months and in the Caribbean for six months so I am with them for the last two in the Mediterranean and four in the Caribbean visiting St. Thomas, St. Martin, Cozumel and other areas.”
When she isn’t on board or at Saint Vincent, she spends time with her real family, Jonathan and Shirley Lambright in Darlington (Beaver County). A graduate of Black Hawk High School where she first fell in love with the theater, she studied technical theater at Point Park University with a concentration in stage management leading to a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. She formerly worked at the Cedar Point amusement park in their live entertainment venues.
Ms. Lambright says she is content with her career and has no aspirations to work on Broadway. “I think it’s overrated,” she said, “with too many people trying to get to the top. What’s important to me is the art itself and evoking emotion. That’s what we do here. I am happy to be able to pursue my craft with the Saint Vincent Summer Theatre family.”
Photo: Penny Lin Lambright backstage at the Saint Vincent Summer Theatre.
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