This summer’s 11 interns came to the Westport Country Playhouse through various routes, both literal and figurative.
Gwen McKenzie’s was by the womb.
Her grandfather — Jim McKenzie — was a Playhouse fixture from 1959 to 1999. He served most of those 4 decades as executive producer.
Her father, Kevin — now in technical theater — worked at the Playhouse in the 1980s.
Gwen’s path to the Playhouse began in Florida, where she attended an arts middle and high school. She worked in props, set design and technical direction, and stage managed “West Side Story.”
She came north for NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts BFA program in theater design and technology. This year, she was wardrobe supervisor for “The Who’s Tommy.”
Last summer, Gwen interned at another theater where her grandfather was a longtime executive producer: Peninsula Players in Fish Creek, Wisconsin.
But Westport holds a special fondness.
“I came up when I was little to visit Grandpa,” she says. “I don’t remember which show I saw, but I thought it was pretty good!”
Her involvement with theater came despite her father’s advice.
“He knows there’s not a whole bunch of money in it,” she says. “But he’s supportive now, and he knows there are so many good people in theater.”
Stage management appeals to Gwen because it touches all areas: sound, lights, scenery and costumes. She’s also learning about marketing and development.
Right now she’s the production assistant for “Happy Days,” which opens tonight. Her next project: “I Do! I Do!”
“A few” interns know about her legacy, she says. They should: Many of the old posters plastered on the walls bear his name.
Anne Keefe knew Jim McKenzie well. On Gwen’s 1st day, the artistic advisor mentioned his name to her.
Gwen would love to be stage manager of a regional theater.
“That was my grandfather’s 1st job,” she notes. “He’d love it!”