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Interview with Randy Meyer, Company Manager for Cirque du Soleil's IRIS

Chelsea-Anne speaks with Company Manager Randy Meyer about working on some of Broadway and touring Broadway's biggest shows.

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Randy Meyer, Company Manager for Cirque Di Soleil's IRIS.

Randy Meyer is a Company Manger who has managed either the Broadway or Broadway National Touring productions of, Phantom of the Opera, Beauty and the Beast, On the Record Tarzan, The Little Mermaid, and Mary Poppins, to name a few. He spent the last twelve years working for Disney Theatrical Productions in New York, and is now making his Cirque du Soleil debut with, IRIS: A Journey Through the World of Cinema. This is Los Angeles' first show with the plan to run for ten years, in hopes of becoming a permanent attraction for locals and visitors alike. Meyer stresses the importance of following ones' dreams and getting internship experience. He graduated from Northwestern University.

What advice do you give to graduating students? "It may sound a little cheesy, but in all truth, follow your dreams. You only live once and you put in all this time, and I still have so many friends who were theater majors or theater business majors or art majors and you know, they go to school and then they get cold feet and they don't go for what they really want to be going for. You live once and you owe it to yourself to go for your dreams, so that's what I would recommend. I do have a lot of friends who majored in theater. They got scared or they didn't really give it enough time. And that's another thing, when you get out of college you're not going to be handed your dream job on a silver platter. It takes time and effort and hard work, but you've got to go for it."

If you could go back in time and speak to your "college self", what would you say? "I thought about this, and there's one thing--well it's not really a regret necessarily--I went to Northwestern University and they have a ton of extracurricular student theater. There was so much going on and I was so involved with [the theater groups,] that I really wish I had gone abroad. Take a semester and go abroad. I was so worried about missing out on a season of what was going on. I did all different sorts of stuff; I performed in a few things, I stage managed stuff, and I mostly produced things. But I wish I had taken the time to go abroad because it's something I think I really would have grown from in a different way."

What was your biggest mistake in your career? "That's a tough one. You know, I've been lucky…I haven't made any major mistakes where I lost a job or where I didn't get a job because of a mistake. But I have something called the thirty-minute e-mail rule. There are often times where I'm writing some pretty heated e-mails or I need to respond to someone in a certain way. I'll write it and then I'll put it in the draft folder for thirty minutes before I hit sent. There's been a few times in the past where I've written an emotionally heated e-mail and just sent it and you know, if I had taken the time to go out outside, to go for a walk, to grab a coffee…I may have made some different choices. That is my new rule when it comes to a serious heated-type e-mail. It took me a few years to learn that one. And always make sure you don't hit reply all if you didn't mean to. I've been on the other end where I've been included in the reply all and they were making a joke about someone or something and it blew up in their face."

What are three habits that contributed to your success? "1) I would say my work ethic. I always work very, very hard and take it all very seriously. 2) And I think my second habit would be my ability to have fun while doing it. Especially working in entertainment and theater, we're not curing cancer, we're putting on a show and it should always have that element of fun. We all entered this field because we enjoy it. 3) My personality and my demeanor--I work with all sorts of different people in what I do, from actors, to artists, crew members, box office, ushers, patrons--I'm one of those people who can pretty much get along with everyone and can have a conversation with anyone, and can nurture all different types of employees."

How did you get your first job? "[As for the] assistant company manager job on, Phantom of the Opera, I got it through a couple of different avenues. When, Miss Saigon, was on tour and came to Chicago they called up Northwestern and said, 'Hey, we're looking for a Production Assistant for two weeks. Do you have anyone?' And because I had done stage management and I produced, they recommended me and I went and worked on the show for two weeks. I worked with the people there and met them and then later in the year another show had come into town and I kept in touch with the stage managers and the company mangers that I worked with. The management company, Alan Wasser Associates, ran the, Phantom of the Opera, tour were hiring]. I had a friend who had graduated from college a year before who worked there. She knew a bunch of people and then this job came up and I heard about it through her first. I think networking is a very important thing to do. This business is a lot about knowing people. It doesn't have to be huge players in the industry."

What are you working on now? "I had worked in musical theater for pretty much my whole career until a year and a half ago, where I took this job with Cirque du Soleil. I'm the company manager of IRIS, where the plan is for it to be a ten-year run here at the Kodak Theatre. It's what we call a resident show. So there are seven resident shows in Las Vegas right now, we have a show in Orlando, a show in Macau, China and in Tokyo, Japan. Cirque also has a touring division that tours the world; there's twenty-two productions worldwide right now. The show here in LA was designed for LA. The show is called, ' IRIS: A Journey Through the World of Cinema. It's a Cinema/Hollywood-type show but it has all the acrobatics you would expect from Cirque. It has a great score by Danny Elfman who is our composer and film composer. And the show was written and conceived by Philippe Decouflé, who is a French director and it's a French design team. It's all in all a hundred million dollar project. It's a big risk here; this will be the longest run of any show that's ever been in Los Angels as far as commercial venture. Phantom of the Opera, Lion King, and Wicked,, each had healthy runs but nothing close to a ten-year run. The idea is that it's a show that the locals in LA will love, and when they have visitors come to town that they have to see IRIS , at the Kodak and this should be on the top list of tourist destinations. You know when you go to New York, pretty much everyone sees a Broadway show. In LA, there really isn't anything comparable to that here and that's really the void we're trying to fill."

My Sum-Up

1) Follow Your Dreams: You only live once, and so it's important to remember that you owe it to yourself to follow your dreams. 2) Fight the FOMO: FOMO--also referred to as Fear Of Missing Out--should not be what inhibits you from studying abroad. 3) 30 Minute E-mail Rule: As per Meyers' suggestion, if you must write a professional (or even personal) heated e-mail for one reason or another, give yourself thirty minutes to cool-off before hitting the send button. 4) Remember We're Not Curing Cancer: The theater and entertainment industries should indeed include an element of fun, so lighten up, slap on a smile, and don't forget to enjoy yourself.

5) See IRIS: It's the next big thing! Seriously though, it sounds amazing. Circus+cinema=yes please. Click here to check out Zach's article about IRIS: A Journey Through the World of Cinema.


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