April 24, 2021

Backstage at the Egyptian: Event Services Director & Volunteer Coordinator Brandon Pugh

Interview conducted by Marketing Intern Sammie Musielak

SAMMIE: What was the transition between being an intern to a full-time staff member like? 

BRADON: The transition was pretty seamless. I was fortunate to be able to move from intern into a part time, House Manager role, before stepping into my current full-time role as Event Services Director and Volunteer Coordinator. Early on in my time with the theatre, volunteers and staff welcomed me with open arms. Everyone was so friendly and wanted nothing but success for the theatre, which was also my focus.  

S: As an Event Services Director and Volunteer Coordinator you have taken on many roles and responsibilities. Do you have a favorite or one that particularly stands out and why? 

B: My favorite role…. that’s a great question…. I have so many roles! I would have to say my all-time favorite role I’m in charge of is……Christmas decorating! I love nothing more than being Buddy the Elf! I’m so fortunate that Jeanine and I share in the love of Christmas because the theatre has never looked better around the holidays. Thank you so much to everyone that lends their hand at helping put up and take down decorations, because Jeanine and I could not do it alone. While this particular role does not lend its hand directly to the monetary impact of the theatre – I am always so pleased and humbled by the number of compliments we get in a season with regards to the beauty of the décor.  

S: What has been the most rewarding part of your job? 

B: When you finally have that ‘ah-ha’ moment from patrons. One ‘ah-ha’ moment in particular takes me back to when we showed ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ in December 2019. We had a little special surprise for patrons at the end of the film. Once the ‘surprise’ started and the awes and ooohs fell over the crowd, I experienced my ‘ah-ha’ moment. That 30 seconds of pure magic felt by patrons is why I do what I do.   

S: Is there any part that you find challenging? 

B: The most challenging part of my job I would have to say is the ‘advance’ that I have to do for live shows. An advance consists of any lodging/hospitality/catering needs for the upcoming show. In the advance, I’m to determine how the entire day is going to run, from the time the artist arrives until the artist leaves. On paper, and ahead of the event, the advance sounds great – it gives us a solid schedule of what the flow of the day is supposed to be. The challenging part of this is when the artist is finally on site and gets to walk the venue for themselves and then decides to change this that and the other thing. While initially frustrating, I always comply 

S: Volunteers are very important to the success of events at the Egyptian Theatre. What are some of the role’s volunteers can have? 

B: We utilize volunteers to scan tickets and seat patrons as an usher. We occasionally will utilize volunteers in concessions, but not as much as we once did. Volunteers use an electronic hand-held scanner to scan patrons’ tickets upon their arrival. Volunteers also will show patrons to their seats when the event calls for such. 

S: Volunteer Appreciation month is coming up. What exactly is volunteer appreciation month? 

B: National Volunteer Week is an opportunity to recognize the impact of volunteer service and the power of volunteers to tackle society’s greatest challenges, to build stronger communities and be a force that transforms the world. Each year, we shine a light on the people and causes that inspire us to serve, recognizing and thanking volunteers who lend their time, talent and voice to make a difference in their communities. National Volunteer Week was established in 1974 and has grown exponentially each year.

S: How is the Egyptian Theatre planning on celebrating volunteer appreciation month? 

B: We were able to give social media shout outs to a handful of volunteers throughout the week through testimonial they provided. We asked volunteers to explain why it is they volunteer. 

We held a volunteer appreciation movie in honor of our volunteers. We were not able to bring EVERYONE together, but it was wonderful to see so many volunteers in one place. It’s been over a year since I was able to gather 14 volunteers in one place! 

Lastly, I popped individual bags of popcorn and delivered them to volunteers’ porches. Some may say we ‘popped’ by…. hoping it wasn’t too ‘corny’…. 

S: What does a typical day look like for you? 

B: No two days ever are the same. I’m usually the last one in the office in terms of full-time staff. I start the day by checking emails and voicemails and then start tackling my list of things to do. Some days are heavily focused on volunteer management, some days are heavily focused on concessions/bar ordering. I like that my job offers flexible schedules! 

S: Do you have any favorite memories so far? 

B: Yes! I love being able to share in the excitement of a show that we are presenting. There is one show in particular that I can think back to where all of us as staff were up in the balcony just SO excited about what was going on, on stage. I’m so very glad that my coworkers and I are more than just coworkers, we’re friends…and this moment showed it. 

S: What has been one of your favorite shows to work on and why? 

B: There have been so many shows over the years that I have loved working on. I would have to say my favorite show that I’ve had the pleasure of working on is The Manhattan Transfer. I grew up singing their music in vocal jazz choirs – being able to meet them was like a dream come true. Some of my favorite songs I sang in choir in high school were songs they sang. It was like something out of a dream having to shuttle them to their hotel and being able to take a picture with all of them. Best show I’ve had the pleasure of working, hands down. 

S: What is the best part of your job? 

B: My coworkers and fellow volunteers. I’ve met so many wonderful people throughout my years at the theatre, but I could not do it without the friendship my coworkers and I have developed over the years. We are a small, but mighty team. We can conquer any challenge that comes our way. The volunteers…. they’re simply amazing, too. The last year of being shut down, not able to see volunteers has been terrible! A huge part of my job is working with volunteers and I am so fortunate for the opportunity. 

S: Is there anything you learned at the Egyptian Theatre that you don’t think you would have learned otherwise? 

B: My immediate thought is schluter strip: which is a finishing piece that goes on the end of ceramic tiles. The schluter strip are metal strips used with tile installations. Most commonly, the schluter strip is used to form the edge of a tile installation. This strip will give a square edge rather than a bullnose tile edge. They can be used as a decorative element within the tile pattern, as a border or divider. Thank you, construction project, for your vast wealth of knowledge. 

On a more serious note…. I have learned so much about professional communication. When it is appropriate to keep pestering someone, when it is not. Coming from a retail background, ‘managerial courage’ was something that was always talked about. Managerial courage, meaning having a backbone to stand up for what you believe in. There have been many, many times throughout the last handful of years that I have had to stick my neck out in order to get things done. I learned a lot about this from my Executive Director, Alex. He has taught me a lot about having the courage to stand up for what I think is right.