1. What was the first show you ever saw, and what impact did it have?
It’s funny, but I never really saw theatre growing up. Sure we had the odd field trip to the symphony or The Nutcracker, but that was pretty much the only exposure I had outside of school-related productions until college. However, I always had a love for theatre, because I simply love stories. Theatre is this incredible method to tell an infinite number of stories or to tell the same story in an infinite number of ways.
2. What was your first involvement in a theatrical production?
I moved around a great deal as a child, but it seemed like every grade school I went to, I did some sort of “Holiday Production.” My first experiences with theatre were singing songs like “Frosty the Snowman” in red sweaters, with white fuzzy trim, and begging my mom backstage to spray glitter in my hair. (There are some delightful pictures somewhere). It’s quite amusing in retrospect, but, at that age, I simply loved being on stage.
3. What’s your favorite play or musical, and why do you like it so much?
Favorite is always a tough subject for me, as I might possibly be the most indecisive person of all time. Plus, for me, pitting a musical against a dark comedy against Shakespeare is just not a fair competition as they are all so vastly different. Nostalgically, there is a special place for The Sound of Music in my heart. As a child, I probably spent more time watching Julie Andrews twirl on the Alps than anything else. Venus in Fur is one of my favorite contemporary plays because of the intricate power struggle between characters. My favorite Shakespeare play has to be Much Ado about Nothing, for essentially the same reason. (And promotion time) I simply love the TYA (Theatre for Young Audiences) show I am currently working on with Arts on the Horizon: Snow Day. Geared for children two–five years old, it is a 30-minute delightful romp through the snow, and seeing the little ones (and big ones) light up every day watching it is one of the most rewarding experiences.
4. What’s the worst day job you ever took?
I spent a summer calling graduates of my university, asking for donations to the annual fund. Speaking on the phone to strangers is awkward. Asking people for money is awkward. Combining the two is just terrible. However, I do have a great respect for the development world after that.
5. What is your most embarrassing moment in the theatre?
My first professional production in Washington was as the Assistant Stage Manager for the Habit of Art at Studio Theatre. It is play about rehearsing a play. In the script, there is this hilarious moment where the Assistant Stage Manager (the character), played by Matt Dewberry, forgets to set the martini glasses and has to run off to get them. During one of our first run-throughs, Matt does his bit and runs for the glasses, but they were not set in their “off-stage” position. It was a terrible moment, where we played out the real-life version of the text. Mortified, I have never run so fast to get a prop. Matt, good-heartedly, had the pleasure of informing me later that my reaction greatly inspired his character’s motivation.
6. What is something that others are surprised to find out about you?
People are often surprised by how much of a nerd and/or bookworm I am. Sign me up for any of the Avengers films, Star Wars, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, etc. I also have this major thing for 19th century and contemporary literature. My bookcases are this weird conglomeration of Jane Austen and Game of Thrones. People are also often astonished that I really enjoy fashion and (on non-tech days) enjoy dressing well.
7. Other than your significant other, who’s your dream date (living or dead) and why?
Hmmm…dream date is always a hard question. I’d really love to go on a platonic date with Abigail Adams, because I find her to be completely fascinating in her relationship with her husband and in her role in establishing this country. However, for an actual date, I’d probably choose Chris Evans, because who wouldn’t want to go out with Captain America, or Alan Rickman, because his voice is just so incredible.
8. What is your dream role/job?
I’m lucky, because I really love stage management, and I get to do that every day. However, if we exclude theatre, I’d probably want to be an event manager...or, maybe, a writer.
9. If you could travel back in time, what famous production or performance would you choose to see?
Easy. I’d love to see the original My Fair Lady with Julie Andrews. And, not just because of my love for Julie Andrews, but also to see how the drama of the off-stage power struggle between her and Rex Harrison played out onstage.
10. What advice would you give to an eight-year-old smitten by theatre / for a graduating MFA student?
My advice for a young theatrical artist, regardless of whether you are eight or 28, is to learn as much as you can about as many aspects as you can. The more you know, the better your craft will be, regardless of whether you want to be an actor, designer, director, or technician. And in learning more, you might find a field that you love even more than the one you previously chose.
Alicia Sells is the Resident Stage Manager for and proud Company Member of Arts on the Horizon. She spent a season as the Resident Assistant Stage Manager for both the Folger Theatre and Studio Theatre. Her credits include: Snow Day, Sunny and Licorice, Under the Canopy, The Young Spectaculars, and The Front Yard Adventure at Arts on the Horizon; Carrie: The Musical, Moth, Edgar and Annabel, The Night Watcher, Red Speedo, The Rocky Horror Show, Bachelorette, Sucker Punch, Time Stands Still, Golden Dragon, and The Habit of Art at Studio Theatre; Twelfth Night, Henry V, and Conference of the Birds at Folger Theatre; New Visions/New Voices 2014: Aviatrix at the Kennedy Center; The Wedding Dress at Spooky Action Theater; Grandfather Frost and the Snow Maiden at Adventure Theatre MTC; Little Shop of Horrors at Olney Theatre Center; and Midwestern Gothic (Workshop) at Signature Theatre. She also is a frequent event stage manager for Arena Stage and has had the pleasure of being the takeover Assistant Stage Manager for two Woolly Mammoth Theatre productions. She is graduate of Vanderbilt Univeristy with a BA in English, History, and Theatre.