American Players Theatre
5950 Golf Course Road
P.O. Box 819
Spring Green, WI 53588
Box Office: 608-588-2361
This week we're chatting with Matthew Meeks, one of our amazing Assistant Stage Managers who make sure the show goes on every day. This is his third season here at APT, so we're talking about everything from his dedication to stage management to how best to fry chicken onstage. Read on for more!
APT: Hey, Matthew! Now that it’s September, how has the season been going?
Matthew Meeks: It’s been a good and exhausting undertaking. Everyone is getting used to doing a full rotating rep season again and we’re all feeling it. My best analogy is that it’s like a marathon with some very intense sprint sections. However, you never know when those sprints (Covid cases) are going to show up.
APT: Totally. So for folks who may not know, you work as part of the Stage Management team. Can you walk us through a few of your responsibilities every day?
Matthew Meeks: Sure. I’m an Assistant Stage Manager here. During the rehearsal process we (as ASMs) are keeping track of all the prop and costume movement onstage. We’re also constantly talking with the shops so they can support what is being rehearsed in the room and vice versa…the actors need to know what their costumes and props can (or can’t) do. Once we open, ASMs move into a more supervisory role to check and ensure everyone and everything is where they need to be at the correct time. We also work with our Stage Managers to maintain the artistic vision of the show, so an audience member seeing a closing night performance is getting the same experience an audience member who saw opening night three months ago.
APT: That's a lot! How did you initially find your passion for stage management?
Matthew Meeks: I found it in high school. My theatre teacher saw something in me and asked me to stage manage our spring musical. That’s when I figured out what I wanted as a career and have been fortunate to stage manage full time since then. It goes to show that all forms of art in education are so critical.
APT: What has been one of your favorite memories from your time working here for the past 3 years?
Matthew Meeks: My favorite memories are the little moments/shenanigans/rituals I build with the cast and crew on every show. That said, my favorite process was working with cast and crew of A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur back in 2019. It was a large Touchstone show with a ton of props and furniture onstage. Two of those props were real raw and fried chicken. It was quite the journey to work with cast and crew to make sure all the chicken got handled safely, costumes weren’t contaminated/damaged and still focus on telling the story. Hint: The raw chicken took a bleach bath between shows. It’s one of those things that make you realize how odd and oddly specific the job can be.
APT: Wow, that's equally gross and cool. Obviously, you do a LOT here, but when you are not in rehearsals or at the shows, what do you like to do with your free time?
Matthew Meeks: When I’m not working you can find me watching trains and airplanes or keeping a close eye on the Disney Parks/planning my next trip. It’s a bucket list item for me to visit all 6 Disney Parks around the world.
APT: Speaking of, I want everyone to know that you're currently on vacation at Disneyland as we speak. So here's a very fitting Wild Card Question: If I gave you a ticket to Disney World right now, what’s the first ride you’d go on and why?
Matthew Meeks: This is where I get specific about my Disney Parks. The first ride I’m riding is Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios. It’s incredibly well themed and such a fun ride that wakes you up to enjoy the rest of your day. However, my favorite attraction is a two way tie between the Disneyland California versions of The Haunted Mansion and The Jungle Cruise.
APT: Anything else you'd like to share?
Matthew Meeks: I owe a huge thanks and debt of gratitude to everyone working this season. What we do isn’t easy and yet everyone puts forth immense dedication and makes their job look effortless which translates to really good stories being told onstage. That said, I need to give a little extra praise to all my friends and coworkers in the Stage Management department. It takes twelve of us to keep things operating and you won’t find a better group of humans around.