Lindsey Callihan is no stranger to Teatro ZinZanni. Starting with her first gig in October 2004, Lindsay has worked in eight different positions and departments in her six years with the dinner circus. She sat down with me over lattés and americanos to discuss her evolving roles as well as her plans for the future.
Starting in 2004 as an intern for the costume shop, Lindsey admits that she had little experience with costumes, nor did she know how to sew, but Teatro ZinZanni took a chance on the Seattle University Drama major anyway, and she quickly learned the ropes. “I acted mainly as the office manager. I would assist the designers and the costume production staff.”
After a few months in the costume shop, Lindsey caught wind that the boutique needed a face painter and photographer to work the front lobby during pre-show. She made the switch and stepped into the world of the front of house. “I had experience in special effects make-up, so face-painting was fun. Once I did a huge fishbowl and underwater scene on the back of this bald man’s head… it was awesome!”
While painting faces and taking photos in the lobby at night, Lindsey also dabbled as a sales associate in the box office during the day, and helped the props and design department on the side during changeovers (i.e. the two weeks before and after a new show opens/closes). “It was great because I had a little experience in some of these departments, others not, but they always took a chance on me, and I learned a lot!” In addition to overlapping schedules in the boutique, the box office, and props, Lindsey added substitute backstage manager to her growing list of positions. And she did all of this while completing her drama BA at Seattle University (she graduated in 2006).
After completing her degree, she continued to work overlapping schedules at ZinZanni. “They kept asking me if I wanted to be the full-time backstage manager instead of just the substitute, but I turned it down three times.” While loving the backstage world, Lindsey felt accepting a full-time position right out of school would be too restrictive. She loved working different schedules and getting to try new things, but the lure of a steady salary and employee benefits took heed, and she accepted the position of Backstage Manager in 2007.
The Backstage Manager takes care of setting and striking props and equipment, including trapezes, choppers, dessert cannons – you name it – and all without being seen by the audience – not an easy task in a theater in the round!
Teatro ZinZanni employs employs two Backstage Managers in addition to multiple substitutes. Lindsey found herself working closely with Anne Gish, the other full-time Backstage Manager. “We worked so many hours together that we became best friends. I love so many things about working backstage, but my friendship with Anne is the best thing that came out of that experience for me.”
Having a few years under her belt as Backstage Manager, Lindsey started to ponder the future. “I started thinking about how one day I want to settle down and have a family, and with little kids I wouldn’t be able to make this time commitment anymore, especially at night.” With those thoughts lingering, Lindsey made the decision to go back to school for her masters degree in Nutrition. With the intense demands of her science and math classes, she stepped down as the full-time Backstage Manager in February 2010. “I needed to focus on my classes, and unfortunately the long hours were not manageable any longer.”
But how can one leave Teatro ZinZanni after nearly six years, and four departments without trying their hand in the restaurant? That’s exactly what she did. Still wanting a part-time job while she completed her masters, Lindsey stepped up as the Teatro ZinZanni Hostess. “This position was great for me because as Hostess, you need an understanding of the backstage world in order to monitor the front of house properly.” She continued in that capacity for a while, but as the wheels turn, so did this young lady’s desire to try yet another role as a food server. “Again, I had no experience at serving food, but I observed a lot in my years backstage, so I had something in my court! I love talking about food because of my new path in nutrition, and I’ve always enjoyed talking with people, so this just seemed like the next natural step.”
In her six years and counting at ZinZanni, Lindsey has proven her skills and determination in a commendable way. It seems that anything she puts her mind to and attempts, she quickly masters. I’m sure the same can be said for her masters degree, which she hopes to complete in three years. As a future Registered Dietician, she plans to involve herself in community based nutrition education. And who knows, if her Teatro ZinZanni jobs continue on the path that they have, in the meantime maybe we’ll find her entertaining crowds in the tent as she swings from the trapeze!
~ By Jennifer Watkins, Teatro ZinZanni Marketing Associate