Kelly Borgia saw “Titanic” on Broadway during a class trip to New York. Following the performance, in a dramatic fashion, she called her mom who was at home in Jacksonville.
“I said, ‘I don’t care what it takes, I’ll sweep the stages if I have to — I’ll work on Broadway one day,’” Borgia says with a laugh. “I’ve definitely made different choices (since then), but that’s when I knew I wouldn’t do anything but theater.”
Borgia did not end up a janitor; she is the production stage manager at Asolo Repertory Theatre. She’s the organizational foundation behind every production. Today is a little crazy, because the new musical “Hero,” which opens May 2, has just moved from the rehearsal hall on Tallavast Road to the actual theater.
“Hero” follows the story of an aspiring comic book artist who, because of a former tragedy, lives at home with his father. When a series of unexpected events occur, he has to face his fears and discover the hero within him.
With one week before the curtain comes up, there are wires, men with power tools and bustling people everywhere. Borgia is at the heart of it. She’s the hero of this production (and many others during Asolo Rep’s season).
In comic book fashion, you can usually spot Borgia with her sidekick: her 8-year-old pug, Doak, who works the 12-hour days alongside her during Asolo Rep’s peak season.
Another thing Borgia is never without is her cellphone — she’s always on call and on her toes to solve any problems that might occur at the theater.
“You can never know what to be ready for, so you always have to be ready,” she says.
She is responsible for the actors’ and crew’s schedules, along with every light, sound, set and prop cue.
She handles any emergency involving any of the above that arises throughout rehearsals and performances. If someone gets sick or hurt, a prop breaks or the lights wont turn on (or off), Borgia finds the solution.
So, could the production go on without her? Her eyes get big. It would take a family death or hospital admission for her to miss a production.
For instance, when her grandfather died, after the curtain closed on the play she was working on, she drove from New Jersey to Ithaca, N.Y., to be with her family, then drove back to call the evening show the next night.
“Hero” has been particularly exciting because it’s a new musical.
“It’s exciting to be apart of something as it’s being created because there are so many unknowns,” she says. “…There’s no reference … It didn’t exist until you were in the room creating it.”
For instance, the set can rotate and four years have passed. Or, maybe it’s Christmas one minute, and 40 seconds later it needs to be Easter — she gets to help figure out all the details. The hope is that the production will have success in Sarasota so other theaters, even Broadway, will pick it up.
“Everyone believes in the work they are doing right now, but it’s also really high stakes because they want it to move and go on,” she says. “I think it’s incredible and people are going to love it.”
IF YOU GO
When: 8 p.m. Friday, May 2
Where: Asolo Repertory Theatre, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail
Cost: Tickets $21 to $76
Info: Call 351-8000 or visit asolorep.org.
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