Anthony Schiavo ’13 has big plans. The theater graduate is in the Big Apple to hone his stage management skills at the elite Juilliard School—where performers like Patti LuPone, Wynton Marsalis, Bebe Neuwirth, and Mandy Patinkin have launched careers.
It all started with Phantom of the Opera. After seeing the musical as an eighth-grader, the New Jersey teenager was hooked. He enrolled at Suffolk with plans to work in theatre, though he wasn’t sure where to focus. Professors quickly noticed his stage management skills. “Sophomore year, my adviser and professor called and asked if I’d like to stage manage Forever, Briefly, an evening of three one-act plays by Thornton Wilder,” he recalls. “It was my first big job at Suffolk. From then on, I knew: The best way to learn is to be thrown right in.”
That professor was Abbie Katz, who is currently touring the world with Einstein on the Beach, an opera with music by Philip Glass. “To have her at my disposal to learn from was truly inspiring,” Schiavo says.
With her encouragement, Schiavo pursued stage management because the work is so pivotal. A stage manager liaises between the director, actors, and behind-the-scenes personnel to ensure everything runs smoothly. “You’re with the play from first rehearsal until the final curtain. You’re the only person who has to know everything about every department,” he explains. “You’re constantly communicating different needs. You bring people together.”
And demanding, too. At the urging of Katz and other professors, he stage-managed several shows each school year. It wasn’t easy to balance schoolwork with the stage, but Schiavo says that the experience was invaluable. “Once I had five classes and did three shows in one semester,” he says. “There were times when they overlapped, and it was tough to prioritize. But it’s been incredibly rewarding—I'm doing what I love.”
That dedication paid off. Before long, he was working on professional productions throughout Boston. He’s managed shows at the Central Square Theater, the Boston Children’s Theatre, the Fresh Ink Theatre, and the Theatre Offensive. He’s also raised money for the New York fundraising organization “Broadway Cares: Equity Fights AIDS.” Through his charity work, he came to know the Broadway company of his favorite show, Phantom—which, in turn, offered him opportunities to observe the stage managers and backstage crew at work.
Juilliard selected Schiavo for its prestigious Professional Intern Program. “I’ll be working on huge productions—opera, dance, and classic Shakespeare—alongside the best of the best in New York,” he says.
While he plans to make Broadway connections and remain in New York City, he won’t forget his Suffolk roots. “I’ve never felt so supported. Whenever I had a question or didn't know how to do something, my professors were always there to help.”