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Conklin returns to the Millbrook Playhouse

Erika Conklin

MILL HALL — The moment when she hits a cue just right.

That’s one of Erika Conklin’s favorite moments while stage managing a production.

Conklin, who was born and raised in Lock Haven, is Millbrook Playhouse’s Ryan Main Stage manager for their 2019 summer season.

So far Conklin has managed “A Year with Frog and Toad,” “Mama Mia!” and Disney’s “Newsies” on the Ryan Main Stage this season.

This is Conklin’s third year helping backstage at the the theater. Last year she was the stage manager for the Poorman Cabaret productions and in 2012 she assistant stage managed the Ryan Main Stage.

2012 wasn’t her first year at Millbrook though. No, the theater is almost like a home away from home for Conklin who first took the stage at the theater as a child.

“Growing up here I was part of the Millbrook camps from a very young age,” she said. “I remember the very first camp I did at Millbrook, we performed “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse.”

The area is very lucky to have a theater like Millbrook, Conklin said.

“We’re so lucky to have Millbrook and have a professional theater,” she said.

For many people like Conklin, theater isn’t just a hobby and having a place like Millbrook is wonderful, she said.

“It started with acting in a way it does for a lot of kids,” she said about her transition into stage management.

While in high school, Conklin first got a feel for life behind the scenes when she was unable to perform in a production.

“When I was in high school it just so happened that I was going to be away for a conference a week before the fall play went up so I started getting into the behind the scenes stuff,” Conklin said.

It was in college that her future career was really cemented.

“When I went to college we always had to take a technical class,” she said. “In my first semester I was slotted into an assistant stage manager position and I discovered that I really enjoyed it.”

It was the organization and multi-level thinking that really drew Conklin in.

“It’s a lot of organization, it’s putting the puzzle pieces together, it’s making everything happen and I found that I liked thinking that way, I like thinking on multiple levels,” she explained.

Conklin attended Messiah College where she earned her bachelor’s in theatre with triple emphasis on acting, directing and tech and design.

She would later travel “across the pond” to London where she earned her Master’s in Performance Making.

Currently, Conklin lives in New York City where she is assistant stage managing an off-Broadway play called “The Imbible: A Spirited History of Drinking.”

Over the years, Conklin has managed and assistant managed 17 productions.

It can be a stressful job, including long hours multiple days a week, but Conklin loves it.

“It’s a lot but I also love the technical process… I love the stress,” she said.

One of Conklin’s biggest challenges is to ensure that everyone, from actors to light designers to those involved with props, feels that they’re supported.

“My job is to see the show gets open” and that is a key part of the process, she said.