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Career Connections: Senior Vice President of Theatre Operations

All Topics » Topic: Arts » Subject: Arts » Career Connections: Senior Vice President of Theatre Operations
  • 2014
  • Grade/Interest Level: 7 - 12
  • Running Time: 5 minutes
  • Described English


Gina Vernaci started as a temporary assistant in Cleveland’s Playhouse Square. Today, she’s the senior VP of Theatre Operations, and Playhouse Square is the second largest theatre district in the country. She offers advice for anyone interested in pursuing a career in theatre. Part of the "Career Connections" series.


(woman) I remember two things
in my early theater-going experience.
In my family, I was raised by my mother,
and we actually were on the poverty level.
We didn't have many resources.
I remember going to the Muny in St. Louis.
The Muny is an 11,000-seat outdoor theater.
We were in the last three rows where the free seats were.
It could've been the front row. It was so much fun.
I just recall the thrill of being there,
and I'm still that excited today.
[cheers and applause]
My name is Gina Vernaci,
and I am Senior Vice President of Theatre Operations
at Playhouse Square in Cleveland, Ohio.
The scope of my responsibility
includes everything that it takes
to bring a show to Playhouse Square,
engage the community in that event,
sell tickets to that event, seat the audience,
and the fiduciary responsibility
of keeping track of all of the ticket sales
and settling that with the show every night.
You look to bring shows
that really showcase the craftsmanship
that it takes to do a Broadway musical.
♪ Well, it's one for the money ♪
♪ Two for the show ♪
♪ Three to get ready Well, go, cat, go ♪
♪ But don't you step on my blue suede shoes ♪
(Gina) That could include costumes, orchestration,
scenery, the writing, the direction.
I probably see usually at least 30 Broadway shows a year.
♪ But ah-ha-honey lay off of my shoes ♪
When you see good and bad, you understand why good is good
and what the components are that make it good.
I was an art major in visual arts.
Art is problem solving.
In writing, it's a blank page.
In art, it's a blank canvas,
If you're a performer, it's a blank stage.
You have to create the thing that happens there.
When I started at Playhouse Square,
the organization was in debt.
I was hired for three months when I came to Cleveland.
They had a hiring freeze and this million-dollar debt.
They couldn't bring people on, but needed help.
What evolved from that is that I was here
as the organization grew from two theaters
to being the second-largest performing arts center
in America.
Even though in college I was an art major,
I was tutoring students in trig and calculus
because I also loved math.
Finance plays a big role because this is a business.
It's not show hobby, it's show business.
I am responsible for $30 million
in gross revenues every year.
You settle the show every night.
Settling the show means anytime there is a show,
this seat here has a ticket price,
and it could have several discounts associated with it.
For the show, you're the bank.
You have to account for every seat,
every discount for every performance that night.
All of the work you go through,
all of the cajoling, planning, managing, strategizing,
motivating, all of that for me
comes in that moment
before a curtain goes up
and the overture begins
and the magic happens.
The greatest show for me
is seeing the expression of an audience's face.
I love seeing what's on stage and being in the house
and turning around and seeing how the audience is reacting.
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