You hurry to your seat, the lights go down — the show you’ve been anticipating is beginning. The lights go up on stage, the performer appears and you applaud for what’s to come.Whether you’re in Sauder Concert Hall, Rieth Recital Hall or Umble Center, the shows you’re seeing didn’t just happen. Someone is working backstage to ensure that your experience was worth the wait.
Brody Thomas, performance venue production manager at Goshen College, is the man behind it all.
“Any production that happens in one of our venues, I help manage, staff and provide direction so the event can happen,” Thomas said. “I make sure people get what they need to hold their event.”
Thomas is in the second year of his role.
“When you enter into this work, there’s a learning curve,” he said. “There’s a lot to absorb for what goes into annual shows like Kick-Off or Festival of Carols. This year, I have a lot more confidence in what works and what just doesn’t.”
Thomas has learned with each show, as have his student stage managers, light operators and house managers.
“Last year, I just wanted to see everything that happened for each of my employees, but now I am able to sit back and enjoy their work,” he said. “They each bring their own talents to their roles and it’s cool to see what they can do.”
For many audience members, it may seem like shows just happen, but there’s much more behind the scenes that rarely gets taken into consideration.
“The work that my students and I do is by nature invisible,” Thomas said, “People don’t see what happens backstage with stage managers and light-ops, and don’t know the processes house managers go through to ensure safety. It’s interesting to navigate that all and still make sure my students still feel like their work is important.”
“One of the highlights is working with touring professional artists,” Thomas said. “You think of artists you really admire, and suddenly you’re driving them from the airport. It can be a bit scary, but it’s so cool.”
Though the work is invisible, there is still a significant purpose to be found within it.
“Something that’s centered me is that though this work can ask a lot of you, is in support of art and artists” Thomas said. “We enable those things to happen, and that gives me meaning and purpose.”
When Thomas isn’t working, he might be found engaging in one of his many hobbies. “I love gardening — I’ve expanded my garden plot to grow all kinds of things to can, dry, ferment, freeze, and cook with. I’m into homesteading.”
Thomas is a GC alum; he majored in music education.
“Music is an important part of my life and I love to play piano. I’m often working through a Beethoven sonata since they keep me on my toes. I also accompany the Camerata Singers, so I play the organ quite a bit, too.”
Along with spending time with his wife, Thomas enjoys the company of his constant companion, Goose.
“Goose is my cat — he’s such a delight. He loves to be around and often curls up in your lap to sleep if you sit somewhere too long. He’s very sweet.”