Washburn graduate returns to Topeka as manager of ‘Chicago’

Brandon Bills

When the cast of “Chicago” takes to the stage at the Topeka Performing Arts Center on Tuesday night, know that all preparations have gone smoothly because an Ichabod is in charge behind the scenes.

Stacy Myers, a Topeka native, ’96 graduate of Washburn Rural High School, and ’04 graduate of Washburn University, is the company manager for the national tour of “Chicago.”

“It’s really great to have the opportunity to bring my work back home,” said Myers. “It’s cool to bring your work back to the theater where you grew up seeing shows.”

The current tour of “Chicago” began in August and finishes this week. The musical, set in 1920s Chicago, is about Roxie Hart, a nightclub dancer who kills her lover in a crime of passion. Her husband hires Billy Flynn, Chicago’s shrewdest defense lawyer, who turns Roxie into a celebrity. “Chicago” is, as stated in the show’s opening lines, “a story of murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery and treachery – all the things we hold near and dear to our hearts.”

“It’s a story that guys who typically don’t go to the theater will enjoy,” said Myers.

As company manager, Myers is responsible for overseeing all the needs of the theater company, including working with the head carpenter, travel, housing, working with the venue and any problems that might arise.

“It’s a jack of all trade profession,” said Myers. “It can be insanely busy, but it can be rewarding.”

Myers has long been involved in theater as an actress, but didn’t want to perform professionally. She became involved in the management side of theater in 2001 when she took time off of her studies at Washburn University to intern at the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, Calif., where she was company management assistant. Next she worked as an intern at Richard Frankel Productions in New York, the same year that company’s “Producers” won the Tony award for Best Musical. She has also worked as an assistant company manager for New York Stage and Film.

Myers graduated from Washburn University in 2004 with a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies, Theater and English. Since graduating, she has worked with the productions of “Jersey Boys,” “Sweet Charity,” and “RENT.”

“Stacy is one of those people who can really do anything she wants,” said Shannon Riley, who has directed Myers in several productions at Topeka Civic Theatre. Riley praises Myers acting and singing ability, saying that when on stage “you can’t take your eyes off her.”

“I’m sure she is a great company manager, but it’s a shame more people don’t get to hear that voice,” said Riley.

Myers says her acting experience has prepared her to be a company manger by giving her a great deal of perspective, allowing her to meet actors’ need before they arise.

“You have to know a little about a lot of things,” said Paul Prece, chairman of the Washburn theater department. Prece said that company manager is a position for which Myers is well suited.

“She is very people oriented,” said Prece. “Very detail oriented.”

Since beginning work with touring companies, the closest a tour has come to Topeka was the performance of “Sweet Charity” at Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, Mo. Several friends and family were able to attend that performance. Myers was excited when the Topeka date for “Chicago” was added to the schedule.

“I called my parents right away and told them,” said Myers.

Myers treasures her time at Washburn University, and the education that has prepared her for her career. She is quick to point out that she is not the only one from her 2004 graduating class to have a successful career in theater. Myers’ classmate and friend Jeff Kready recently performed in Broadway productions of “Les Misérables,” “Sunday in the Park with George,” and starting Nov. 13, he can be seen in “Billy Elliot: The Musical.”

When she isn’t on the road, Myers is still active in Topeka theater. Next month she can be seen in Topeka Civic Theatre’s production of the musical “Annie Warbucks,” playing the role of Ella. That production runs Nov. 28 through Dec. 21.

“Touring is insane,” said Myers. “It’s crazy to live out of two suitcases.”

Myers admits there is one tough sacrifice that has to be made because of her touring schedule.

“I wish I was in town to see Washburn football games,” said Myers.