Countless students discover a passion for theater in Westport.
Many find themselves on stage. Others prefer to work in the wings.
From a young age, Samantha Flint — whose mother was in actor Christopher Lloyd’s class at Staples, and whose grandparents also attended the school — danced. At Bedford Middle School, director David Roth cast her in shows. When he and she moved on to Staples together, she joined Players.
At the end of freshman year she tried stage managing. That’s where she found her true love.
“You’re part of the process at every point, from the first auditions to the closing performance,” she says. “And there’s so much to do.”
Roth challenges every Player, at every level. Flint’s last show at Staples — “City of Angels” — was “incredibly difficult, technically,” she recalls. “When I tell people I did it in high school, they’re floored.”
She heard about DePaul University — Roth’s alma mater — from the director. There were only 4 students in her year in the stage managing program. “It was like working in regional theater, but getting a degree,” she says.
A good stage manager must have many skills, she explains: organization, communication, flexibility, sensitivity. All contribute to creating a “safe environment, where actors feel they can create art.”
After graduating magna cum laude from college, Flint returned east. She’s served as production assistant, assistant stage manager and production stage manager on Broadway, off Broadway and in regional theaters like Williamstown and Hartford Stage. Her credits include “Venus in Fur” in its Broadway debut, “Camelot” (with director David Lee of “Cheers” and “Frasier” fame), and “Barefoot in the Park.”
She spent 2 summers at Shakespeare in the Park, working with William Shiner and Michael Greif. Flint calls it “an amazing experience. When everyone was on the subway dressed for the office, I was there in shorts and a t-shirt, headed outdoors to make theater.”
At the Adirondack Theater Festival, she helped bring “Avenue Q” and “Next to Normal” to an area that is starved for shows. “They embrace what we do,” Flint says. “A lot of audience members come back more than once.”
Flint does not forget her roots. Recently, she taught 2 master classes in stage management for Weston High School’s Company.
This month, Flint was back in her home town. She was assistant stage manager for the Westport Country Playhouse production of “And A Nightingale Sang.”
It was a homecoming of sorts. At 15 years old, Flint had apprenticed there. The building has changed, but the “lovely people” and thrill of helping produce a show were the same.
On Thursdays, Flint shopped at the Farmers’ Market, and brought fresh food for the cast. “They were amazed — they never knew it was there!” she laughs.
After “Nightingale,” Flint heads to Bucks County Playhouse, for “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”
“That’s the beauty of what I do,” she says. “I never know what’s ahead.”
Though she also never forgets Westport, and what is behind.