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Beaver River graduate loves life in the wings on and off-Broadway

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UTICA — It’s been some time since McKenzie B. Murphy has been involved with a theater production so close to Lewis County.

But in March she will be in Utica for the Off-Broadway production of “Peter and the Starcatcher.”

“It’s an adults’ prequel to Peter Pan. It’s appropriate for kids around 10, but it’s fast-paced and intelligent. There are fart jokes, but also Ayn Rand things,” said the 2005 Beaver River Central School graduate.

Ms. Murphy is the assistant stage manager for the show, based on the 2004 book of a similar title by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. She has been working on the show intermittently since it first ran off-Broadway in 2011.

The show went on tour in August and will run until June. Ms. Murphy has traveled across the country with the tour.

Some stops the tour has made already include Texas, Washington, St. Louis, with stops planned in 12 other states and Washington, D.C., before it wraps up.

“It’s crazy. We’re in San Francisco and L.A. and I’m excited to come home for a few days,” said Ms. Murphy.

As assistant stage manager, Ms. Murphy ensures that everything runs the same for every performance.

“My job is a coverall,” she said. “I make sure everyone is doing the same thing and the audience is seeing the same show from beginning to end.”

She is responsible for coordinating stagehands, actors and the creative team. She directs understudy rehearsals, coordinates lights and sound and also manages paperwork.

“I’m like a mixture of a conductor and an air traffic controller,” she joked.

This is not the first time the 26-year-old has worked on a Broadway or off-Broadway production. Her career started out while she was attending Stony Brook University.

“My first musical was ‘9 to 5 The Musical’ with Dolly Parton,” said Ms. Murphy. “I had a professor, I didn’t think he liked me, but he pulled me aside and asked if I wanted to interview for it.”

She started out on “Peter and the Starcatcher” as a production assistant. She has also be involved in “Elf The Musical,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Cinderella,” “An Enemy of the People,” “Wit” and “Everyday Rapture.”

She says “9 to 5 The Musical” was particularly interesting.

“Usually it’s boring and goes the same way,” Ms. Murphy said. “‘9 to 5’ had so many moving pieces and ... it used to crash because we had technical problems. Dolly Parton — she wrote the music for the show — would come out and sing to the audience to distract them.”

Ms. Murphy also recounted an instance during “Bye Bye Birdie” when actor John Stamos, who played Albert Peterson in the show, stalled the audience by asking former “Full House” co-star Bob Sagat to come up.

Ms. Murphy graduated from college in 2009 with a degree in theater artsand a concentration in stage management. Her goal is to become an assistant on a Broadway play or musical. She lives in Queens, and doesn’t see a move back to Lewis County in her future.

“I respect Upstate New York, how it’s slow-paced and family-oriented. But I love working on Broadway. I want to continue to work on Broadway and keep moving up,” she said.

Still, she’s glad to have her work take her home, even if it’s only for a few days.

“Peter and the Starcatcher” will be at the Stanley Theater, 258 Genesee St., Tuesday, March 4, and Wednesday, March 5. Shows are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Prices vary based on seating.

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