By: Sharman Yarnell – mtltimes.ca
Amy Steinman developed a love for theatre working in school productions in the highly popular arts program at St. George’s School, here in Montreal. “It became a passion, I loved it.”
Aiming to work back-stage, Amy Steinman honed her craft at local shows and theatre houses, including the Segal Centre’s Yiddish productions, Geordie, and Just for Laughs.
Steinman’s Dad is a dentist and her Mom is a homemaker. It is her mother whom she credits for instilling in her a love for the Arts. “She always enjoyed the arts, painting…and some of my earliest memories are going with my grandparents to see the performances of the Lyric Theatre.”
Much of the work in a theatre production, be it a play or musical, takes place behind the scenes. So let’s be clear, no production would get off the ground without its support staff: the technical artists, sound, light, costume and set designers, and…stage managers. Nothing gives Steinman more of a thrill than attending the Tonys and hearing the name of one of the shows called that she has stage-managed, especially if it has won the prestigious Tony Award!
After leaving Dawson, where she studied Creative Arts, and receiving her Undergraduate Degree at Concordia in Theatrical Design, Steinman left Montreal to study for her Masters in New York.
And there she stays. She is a fixture on Broadway and is presently working the Broadway touring production of Cinderella.
How did she get into the belly of that wonderful beast, Broadway? It was curiosity that did it. She walked into one of the theatres, spoke to them about wanting to work in stage management and bingo…she was working on Wicked within the next couple of weeks. “All of a sudden I had an artistic hand in this huge, world renowned production.”
From there she went to Death of a Salesman. “An incredible experience…it was such an honour to be in the same room as such a legacy as Mike Nicholls. He was such an incredible man and talent.”
Bring It On: The Musical with Taylor Louderman in the lead was next. (You might remember Louderman as Wendy in NBC’s live production of Peter Pan.) The musical is all about big time cheerleading. “I went from from a dramatic, intense play, to let’s throw each other in the air and hope we catch each other!”
Then came Aladdin and on to Cinderella for two and a half years. She is presently working the Broadway touring production of Cinderella. “We’re all over North America. Every week we have to alter the show because the stages are different sizes and shapes everywhere we go. We arrive on the Tuesday morning and put on a show Tuesday night.”
Over the past few years she has worked with some of the best known names in New York theatre. Philip Seymour-Hoffman (Death of a Salesman), Fran Drescher (Cinderella), Mike Nichols (Director of Death of a Salesman).
She developed a friendship with Drescher whom she says is an “incredible woman who has been through all sorts of horrible things, yet she is so humble and kind. On the last night of her final Broadway performance in Cinderella, she took everyone home to her apartment and had a cook out on the roof of her apartment.”
Drescher played the Evil Stepmother in Cinderella and was one of those people who wasn’t always ready to go on stage. “Once I actually had to grab her and push her on! I thought, that’s it, I’m going to be fired. But when she came off stage all she said was, ‘Thanks doll’. When I saw her for the first time that she came to rehearsals for the tour, she recognized me immediately and came running up to me with open arms, ‘Amy’! She also regaled everyone with the story of my efforts to get her on stage.”
“Seymour-Hoffman was an incredible talent but not as warm and inviting a person.
But to be in the room watching him work was amazing…watching him figure out his motivation, how to get from here to there. Now Mike Nichols, what a lovely man. For Valentines Day he bought roses for every woman at the theatre, long stem roses, for the ushers, the front of house, the actors, crew, all the women. He is the nicest man I’ve ever met.”
In between jobs in New York, Steinman came back to Montreal and worked on shows here. One cannot overlook her professional encounter with that spirited porkus delicti, Miss Piggy, at the Just for Laughs Festival! She also worked at JFL with Joan Rivers, whom she found at first to be a little intimidating. When Steinman handed her a list of notes at her Montreal gala, Rivers rolled up the notes and hit her on the side of her head with them! “You’re a good girl!”
Anyone wanting to work in Theatre, be it as an actor, support or technical person, usually has one focus, one city in their sight. New York – On and Off-Broadway. Steinman made it there with her perseverance, hard work, talent and tenacity. (I mean, how many people walk into a theatre in New York and simply tell someone they want to work there!) While she may come home for the occasional visit, it’s highly unlikely that she would leave the city that is offering her so many artistic choices and challenges. Only the best of the best of any profession reaches the top in New York. What does the song say? “If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere….”
“I love it in New York, I want to stay there. I’m only five hours away from my family. I come here every few months to see them or they come to me”
The young lady from St. George’s has her sights on some of the new shows coming out in the fall when the Cinderella run is over – The School of Rock and the revival of Fiddler on the Roof .
“I’m trucking along, it’s not an easy business but it’s what I want to be doing every day for the rest of my life”