(WHTM) — Mean Girls the musical is in town, and for some of the cast and crew at Hershey Theatre, it is a homecoming.
Crew like Maddie Simpson. For her, the limit to her career does not exist.
“For this to be our first job out of college is insane. We kind of feel invincible after doing this. We’re like, oh, anything else will be easy compared to this,” SHE SAID.
Just months after graduating college, she is leading the wardrobe department for the national tour of Mean Girls — the musical.
“Being on tour was always like an end goal for me. So the fact that this is happening so early is crazy,” Simpson said. “I thought I was going to start as an assistant and then maybe work my way up at some point.”
And it is not like she doesn’t even go here. Simpson went to Mechanicsburg High School and graduated from Penn State in May.
“This is a fun full circle moment to be back on my very first tour,” she said, adding she ushered at Hershey Theatre starting at 16.
Simpson is no stranger to the theater world. Her parents both worked in the field.
“So I grew up backstage and learning how the magic of theater happens,” she said,
She has always loved customers and the behind-the-scenes work.
“I was always fascinated with the quick changes and the set changes,” she said. “How the audience doesn’t necessarily know what’s happening backstage, but it’s a whole choreographed routine behind the scenes.”
However, she did not think working in costumes was a realistic career, so when she decided to pursue a career in theater, she wanted to work as a stage manager. That all changed when she got to college.
“I learned how vast the world of costumes is and how many opportunities there are. And then I was like, ‘Okay, yeah, that’s really where my heart is, and I think I want to do that forever,'” Simpson said.
She worked on at least a dozen shows at Penn State.
“I ended up costume designing a show where the set was a pool of water on stage,” she remembered.
Now, in her first “big girl job,” as she calls it, Simpson is dealing with over 200 costume changes every night.
“Some of the changes are 30, 35 seconds, so you don’t really have time to put on more than one piece,” she said.
Sometimes, she is solving problems during the show.
“We have what we call a repair sheet that’s full pretty much every night of people saying, ‘Oh, my shoelace broke’ or ‘The button fell off of my shirt.’ But then we also have the instances where people come up and say, ‘Hey, I completely ripped out my pants. What do I do?’ Or ‘My shoe broke and I have to be on stage in two minutes,'” she described.
It is all worth it when she sees it come together on stage and witnesses the way the costume can help an actor’s performance.
“Our Cady, Natalie Shaw, is phenomenal, she’s such a wonderful person, and she put on her opening outfit with the khakis and whatnot, and she was like, ‘Oh, okay, I’m, I’m Cady now,” and it’s always super fun to see that happen.
Simpson has some advice for the theater kids out there. “Fetch” might never happen — but a career in theater can.
“There’s so many people that say, you know, ‘It’s a hobby, it’s not worth it. You’re never going to make any money,’ and it’s just not true. There’s so many opportunities and then you get to make magic happen for people literally all over the world,” she said.
Simpson is not the only Midstate connection to the tour. Shawn Matthews, who plays Kenny G, is a Central Dauphin alum.
Mean Girls runs at the Hershey Theatre through Sunday, October 15.