Meet the Staff – Erin Frederick, Education Enrollment & Marketing Coordinator
By Theresa MacNaughton, Community Engagement Associate
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m originally from the Philadelphia area, although I’ve lived all over the place throughout my career. I have a BFA in Musical Theatre from Ithaca College, so I actually started my career as a performer. I worked primarily in classical theatre, which eventually led to my directing for – and then running – a small Shakespeare in the Park company in the Philadelphia region. I had always loved the world of theatre education, and I really wanted to pursue that full-time. So, I ended up going back to school to get my MS in Arts Administration from Drexel University and finding my way here to Hartford Stage!
Tell us about the first time you experienced live theatre.
I was about six when Les Miserables premiered on Broadway. My parents had seen the show and bought the soundtrack, which I listened to constantly. I pretty much had the whole thing memorized by the time the national tour came around to Philadelphia, and my parents took my brother and me to see it. While I was all dressed up and prepared to be on my best behavior, my parents hadn’t anticipated one major problem: when the music began, I started belting out all of the songs from the audience – just as I had done with the recording! It took a bit of a learning curve, but I thought the entire experience of live theatre was just magical. I’ve never lost that feeling.
Who or what inspired you to explore a career in theatre?
You know, I think it’s been in my blood since birth (which is funny, considering I’m the child of two scientists!). My parents write these annual Christmas letters to friends and family; and if you look back to some of the earliest letters, they talk about how “two-year-old Erin does everything with DRAMA – whether it’s tucking her stuffed animals in for a nap or accepting a lollipop from the bank teller.” I really never wanted to do anything else, and fortunately, they supported me in that decision.
Tell about your day-to-day responsibilities here at Hartford Stage.
For the most part, I handle the sales end of the Education Department. If you’re calling to inquire about or register for a class, or you’re interested in booking a student matinee, you’re talking to me. I also teach and direct as part of our Youth Studio programs.
What’s the most difficult part of your job? Alternately, what’s the best part of your job?
You know, it’s really hard to say what the most difficult part of my job is. There are certainly daily struggles that come up, as I wear many hats, and there is a lot of work that goes along with each “hat.” However, I love the challenge, and I am fortunate to work with some of the best people in the world in our Education Department. That goes a long way to help with any difficult situations that might arise. Alternately, the BEST part of my job is definitely the people we work with through the Education Department – the students, their families, and the schools. There is nothing better than witnessing the moment when a theatre student has a major personal breakthrough or revelation in class. It’s why I got into this field in the first place, and it hasn’t let me down yet!
You’ve played a big role in helping to prepare Hartford Stage’s first Sensory-Friendly performance of A Christmas Carol. What has this experience been like for you?
It’s really been incredible. Back home in Philadelphia, I taught for several years with Theatre Horizon’s Autism Drama Outreach Program. So, I have seen firsthand how the art of live theatre can inspire meaningful social and intellectual connections in those who struggle with Autism, Asperger’s, and other sensory issues. It is something I believe in very strongly, and so I very much wanted to be involved with the planning process of our own Sensory-Friendly performance here at Hartford Stage. What’s been so incredible is that the planning process for this performance has truly been an organization-wide event; every single department is on board and helping in some way, and we are all so looking forward to making this event a truly special evening of theatre.
What has been your greatest achievement since you’ve worked at Hartford Stage?
Ask me after the Sensory-Friendly Performance! Depending on how it goes, I think that may be it!
What do you hope that the youth who take classes or see performances here at Hartford Stage will take away from their experiences?
I believe that theatre teaches empathy. In order to understand a character, you have to first put yourself in his shoes. I don’t think there is any greater skill our students could take away with them. We certainly don’t expect all of our students to go on to pursue careers in theatre; but it is my hope that they carry that sense of empathy and creative thinking with them into whatever they pursue – medicine, law, engineering, etc. If that is the case, then I would consider my own job pretty well done, indeed!
Do you have other talents or passions outside of working in theatre?
Well, I love storytelling in all of its forms – from film to literature to local history. I’ll travel anywhere at any opportunity. And I make a mean pie!
What is your personal motto in life?
“I believe in kindness. Also in mischief.” – Mary Oliver