Rachel Noah has a different view of the long-running Broadway musical “Wicked.”
That's because three of the four times she's seen “Wicked” she's been back stage watching its props being wheeled back and forth and its actors take their places.
The 2016 Seneca Valley High School graduate, and self-described theater kid, had a summer internship on Broadway with the production company for “Wicked.”
Noah, 21, is a senior at the University of Pittsburgh majoring in marketing and minoring in theater.
“I've been a theater kid since my parents (Darleen and Wayne Noah of Cranberry Township) threw me into dance classes and acting classes,” she said. “I was always putting on shows in the house. It was something they knew I would be passionate about at a very early age.”
Noah grabbed opportunities in high school and middle school to step on stage.
“At Seneca Valley, I was the narrator in 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' and I was Alice Beineke in 'The Addams Family.'”
She had a mentor in Aaron Magill, the Seneca Valley High choral director who was also director for many of the school's plays and musicals.
“He also really pushed me to achieve my dreams and really inspired me to be the best I could be,” she said.
Magill is a fan.
“She was always a very hard worker,” he said. “She was always happy and smiling.”
Somewhere along the way, Noah's interest shifted from the spotlight to behind the scenes.
“Arts management is the behind-the-scenes work of theatrical productions: administration, finance, anything that allows a production to be produced,” she said.
Noah spent her summers in college getting experience in the world behind the curtain.
“I began by interning at the Red Barn Theater in Fombell after my freshman year in college,” she said.
Noah spent three months with the Red Barn as the communications and marketing intern.
“I created social media platforms and organized season ticket sales and communicated with patrons,” Noah said. “It was definitely a beginner, volunteer-based job just to get my feet in the water.
“It was a perfect place to work. Everyone was so kind and passionate about theater, and I felt welcomed.”
It was a perfect stepping stone to her next internship the following summer at the Pittsburgh CLO.
“I was the public relations/marketing and special events intern in the summer of 2018,” she said.
She turned her backstage theater work into a study abroad session in the fall of 2018.
“I went to London in the fall 2018 and I had an internship there as well. It was amazing,” Noah said.
She took classes at the University of London through a program offered by Pitt and interviewed for an internship with the Metta Theatre, a London-Exeter-based company formed in 2005.
“I worked directly with multiple West End producers to develop and market a new British musical,” she said. “I can't talk much about it. It is still in the works.”
In addition to working in London's famed West End theater district, she also took advantage of cheap airfares and open borders to travel around Europe.
“I actually visited quite a few countries. I flew to Austria for $60. I got to Ireland, Belgium, Denmark. I did some by train and flew to Ireland and Austria,” she said.
“I got to experience some amazing things, and I am so glad Pitt had this program to allow students to see new environments and learn how to adapt to new countries.”
This summer, Noah finally made it to Broadway when she interned at 321 Theatrical Management, the general management company for “Wicked” on Broadway and the national tour of the show.
Her internship included a series of seminars taught by industry professionals; the opportunity to shadow company managers; accompanying the cast to public events, and helping to market one of the longest-running shows on Broadway.
“Wicked” has been playing for 16 years.
“I worked a lot with researching marketing partnerships for 'Wicked.' After 16 years it's hard to reach new audiences,” she said. “That was primary duty in the marketing department.”
Noah said by the end of her internship, she's now seen “Wicked” nine times — including four times this summer; three times from backstage and once in the audience.
“It was to see how in a show they maneuver backstage to put a show on,” she said. “That's without bumping into one another.”
“It's a different world. To see how many people it takes to put on a show each night. Everybody puts their heart and soul into it.”
She also worked in an office in the famed Gershwin Theater at 222 West 51st Street in midtown-Manhattan.
Because of that she got to see 18 Broadway shows, she sat in the front row at a “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” taping, met Jake Gyllenhaal. She also meet many other performers including “Younger” star Sutton Foster, a two-time Tony Award winner for her work in “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and “Anything Goes.”
There is a difference, however, in the comfort zone between Pittsburgh and New York or Pittsburgh and London.
“Being by yourself in New York for a summer with no friends or family was nerve-racking at first,” she said.
“I liked New York more than London although they are both amazing in their own way. I learned so much and got more confident.”
Back in Oakland, she still performs in Pitt productions and also has a leadership role in The Imagination Project — a student-run club in which students dress as children's characters to bring smiles and magic to children with mental and physical handicaps.
“We are just a club of college students who dress up as fairy tale characters and superheroes and go to multiple children's hospitals in the Pittsburgh area,” she said. “We go and meet the children who need some extra light in their life.”
Noah not only coordinates the visits, but appears as Rapunzel and Belle.
“I decide who goes on what visit and when, and it is very daunting task over 150 people involved in this club as a whole,” she said. “It's tricky at times but extremely rewarding.”
After she graduates in the spring, Noah said she'll follow the yellow brick road.
“I am looking to multiple places to go where the job takes me, possibly ending in New York City. I would also like to work for Disney in Florida,” she said. “I would like to wind up in Florida or New York as long as I continue to work in arts management. I know I will be happy.”
Her mentor wishes her the best.
“It's great that she's been able to follow her dreams,” Magill said. “For four years, she's done the work.”