What do Broadway and Zach Hamby have in common? Absolutely nothing. What do Broadway and the White House have in common? A television special airing on PBS and WETA in October.
So outside of movies and sports, I am filling my time this summer with an internship at WETA, the Washington area’s PBS station. And one of their television series is, In Performance at the White House where the President celebrates music and education (aka the president is too busy to leave his house so why watch television when he can have his own concert in his living room!). So sadly I missed the Paul McCartney show while participating in Club Maymester. My consolation prize was working as a production assistant for A Celebration of Broadway starring: Nathan Lane, Elaine Stritch (Alec Baldwin’s mom from 30 Rock), Idina Menzel (Elphaba from Wicked), Marvin Hamlisch, Audra McDonald, and the stars of Hairspray among others. Now let me tell you I know nothing about Broadway, but my mom kept saying she would kill to meet Marvin Hamlisch and my sister said the same thing about Idina Menzel. Therefore after sleeping with one eye open I was off to Washington and the White House.
Now if you are reading this post you have most likely been to one of UPB’s Convo shows and if you had not realized a lot goes into making one of those shows. This White House show was like a Convo show on speed. And a few memorable moments included being a stand-in for ten hours. I got to play the fake drummers while Idina and Marvin rehearsed (yea we’re on a first name basis now).
I was a human sign directing traffic to dinner and happened to run into Nathan Lane and the whole cast just hanging out waiting for the bus to arrive. I stood on the roof of the White House breaking down tents and sound equipment at midnight while the staff told us to be quiet because the Obama kids were sleeping. I ate free catered food sitting next to the famous Broadway director, but I was too focused on my food to notice.
So all in all, I learned more about Broadway then I care to divulge. But it was an amazing experience that I’ll remember forever and I shall pass on an exaggerated version to my children and grandchildren. Soon I will be going back to JMU to start my senior year and be UPB’s VP of Marketing and Communication. If this experience has taught me anything is that the real world is imminent, and if I can’t get anything with this degree of mine I know I have the right posture and determination to be a stand-in for a television show.
~Zach Hamby, Vice President of Marketing and Communication