Eight semi-trucks loaded with sets, costumes and equipment and two charter buses carrying six-dozen people are just part of the responsibilities of a central Iowa woman.
When the touring Broadway production of “An American in Paris” makes its one stop in Iowa this week, assistant company manager Candace Hemphill will be there, clipboard in hand, making sense of the swirling madness.
“My main job is to take care of the day-to-day logistics for the company,” Hemphill says. “We have a traveling company of 71 so I take care of their housing, their entertainment, I help them feel comfortable in a new city, help them find a doctor if they’re not well — all of the stuff you’re able to do when you’re home but when you’re in a new city, it’s kind of hard.”
Hemphill is a Des Moines native, so she’s arranging trips to destinations like the farmers market, Zombie Burger and Terrace Hill. She can also tell you who has good pizza, find a reliable eye doctor or get a transmission fixed in cities from Los Angeles to Houston to Miami.
“We reach out to the building ahead to time, to the theater or to the hotel, ask them who they know and what’s good,” Hemphill says. “I’ve been on the road about 10 years so I’ve been to most of these cities a time or two and keep pretty meticulous notes on what’s helpful and what’s not.”
So how does someone get this kind of job? Hemphill earned a degree in theater technology and design from Drake University and a masters from Wayne State in the same category, then started sending out resumes.
“I got really lucky and got a job 10 years ago on the road with a company of ‘Rent’ and I’ve been lucky enough that each job leads to the next,” Hemphill says. “This is a business about reputation and about being in the right place at the right time.”
The production of “An American in Paris” opens tonight and will be at the Des Moines Civic Center through Sunday.
Hear Matt Kelley’s full interview with Candace Hemphill below: