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Servant Leaders in Action: Arts & Entertainment

Alumni’s Adventures in Stage Management with Disney

Christine Peterson

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Disneyland – it’s not just the place where dreams come true, and not just the happiest place on earth, but also the home of some of the best entertainment productions in the world! When Christine (Martin, FS ‘98) Peterson began her freshman year at HIU, she knew she had a love for the theater, but she had no idea that she would soon be working for one of the world’s best loved entertainment companies, The Walt Disney Company.

For the last ten years, Peterson has worked with Disney Entertainment at Disneyland Park and Disney’s California Adventure as a Production Stage Manager for on-going large scale productions as well as special events. She has worked on recent productions such as Remember…Dreams Come True, Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular, Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage, and Fantasmic! Most recently she has worked on the new nighttime event, Glow Fest, and the 2010 California Adventure Food & Wine Festival, both at Disney’s California Adventure, and on the fireworks show, Magical.

Says Peterson about her job, “For those who don’t know what a stage manager does, a stage manager is the person you rarely see who sits in the dark and calls all the cues that the design team has set in place for that particular production. A stage manager is often the middle man of the production team, keeping track of all the schedule needs, rehearsals, union rules, performer’s needs, crew needs and anything else that might come up. Once a production has opened, it is the job of the stage manager to maintain all of the visions of the director and the other design partners.”

Peterson’s career journey began as she first caught glimpses into the job of a stage manager during her time at Fullerton Community College (FCC). Says Peterson, “I watched as this woman ran every rehearsal and every performance with a confidence that I wanted to have.” From there, she managed five large scale productions as a student at FCC, and later organized a 20-student group of college students to travel to Europe for the Fringe Festival in Scotland where the group performed 14 shows over the course of two weeks.

Peterson also works as Equity Stage Manager with Shakespeare and Friends, a group that tours through LA County schools introducing high school and junior high school students to the works of William Shakespeare. She has worked on professional productions such as The Producers and an Ovation-nominated production of The Last 5 Years.

A life in entertainment has not only brought unique career experiences, but a real life love story as well. Peterson met her husband, Scott, “on the job” in 2003 while they were both working on the Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular stage show and became friends. Two years later, Scott relocated to Hong Kong as he was the technical designer for the Hong Kong Disneyland project. Christine thought she would never see him again, but two years later when he returned, the “sparks” flew. Christine recollects, “You often hear that when two people first meet there is a spark; I guess you could say on our second meeting we skipped the spark and went right to the fireworks. Two years later, after having reacquainted ourselves and building a friendship much stronger than before the Hong Kong Project, we were married on October 12, 2008; five years after we had first met. Now like any good fairytale – we plan to live happily ever after.”