Name: Michelle Chin
Profession: Director of New Works, Director of Summer Camp, Actress, Musician, and Director at The Phoenix Theatre Company
What do you do for a living?
I am an artist who wears many different hats. This means I do many jobs, but they are all related to performing arts! For The Phoenix Theatre Company my official title is the director of New Works and director of Summer Camp. As the director of New Works, I help select what material we will showcase each year, organize rehearsals and performances, and run our annual Festival of New American Theatre. The festival allows artists to develop new plays and musicals. It also allows audiences to give feedback on the work and get an inside look at how new theatre is created. As director of Summer Camp, I select the themes for our different kids’ camps, assemble our team of teaching artists, and make sure everything runs smoothly all summer long. I am also a director and have had the opportunity to direct plays and musicals at The Phoenix Theatre Company, which is different than my other director roles. A theatrical director works with the actors and all the artists (designers, technicians, artisans, etc.) to put the show together and collaborate to make sure everyone is telling the same story in the same way. As a performer, I also frequently get to use my skills as an actress, singer, dancer, and musician on The Phoenix Theatre Company stages. My next role will be as Gabrielle in Cinderella this holiday season.
What type of training do you need to do your job?
Each of the different roles that I do for The Phoenix Theatre Company require different skills and training but there is also some overlap. As director of New Works and director of Summer Camp I use arts administration skills, which means that I am organizing, collaborating, and communicating to make sure all the pieces needed to run these programs are in place. Our Summer Camp is inclusive which means any young person of any ability is welcome to participate and we receive training from our partner, the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center, to make sure our classroom spaces are inclusive and accessible. As a performer, I earned a Bachelor of Music in Musical Theatre Performance from ASU where I studied voice, music theory, music history, dance, acting, and puppetry. As a multi-instrumentalist I have also taken private and group lessons to study technique for all the instruments I play.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
Even though I have many different jobs, my favorite part of all of them is sharing the final product with audiences. We have many different performances featured in our Festival of New American Theatre and each week of Summer Camp ends with performances by all the campers. As an actress and musician, I work on lots of shows, playing different roles and instruments, and sharing the show with audiences is always my favorite part of the process as a performer too.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I fell in love with theatre when I was 7, and I think I wanted a career in the arts ever since. I also had an interest in forensics, science, medicine, and culinary arts as a child, but as an actress I realized I could play a character who is a doctor, scientist, or baker.
What advice would you give to a kid who wants to have a similar career?
For anyone wanting to pursue a career in the arts, the main piece of advice I would give is “practice makes perfect.” I am constantly learning new things, working on different shows with different people, and practicing ways to make the programs stronger. As an actress, singer, dancer, and musician, rehearsal is also incredibly important to learn new skills and hone different talents. Keep practicing!
One fun fact NOT about your job?
I have always enjoyed watching cooking shows and when I had time at home in 2020, I taught myself how to bake specialty cakes. I love to make cakes for birthdays and holidays, and I have now made a tradition of baking a cake themed for any show that I work on.