The past month has been a very busy one for Starlight Theatre company manager Caroline Gibel. She took on a myriad of management duties for the 34-person cast and multi-member creative team for Starlight’s production ofMary Poppins, which was the only Broadway show rehearsed and produced locally this season. Caroline deftly led tasks ranging from coordinating all travel and lodging arrangements, to serving as a liaison between Starlight staff and the creative team, to even escorting Analisa Leaming who played Mary Poppins to The K to perform “God Bless America” during a Sunday afternoon Royals game.
Learn more about what makes Caroline tick and how her career path has led to Starlight in this article recently published in The Kansas City Star’s INKmagazine:
“Kansas City offers nothing for me,” she told her parents. “I’m going to live in New York.”
When Caroline Gibel, graduated from Winnetonka High School in the Northland, her only plans were to move to New York and get on the Broadway stage. She’d been involved in theater through high school, and knew that Broadway was the place to be if you wanted to make it big.
And so she went. After spending a year at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and discovering her love of directing, she transferred to Marymount Manhattan College in New York City.
She spent nearly 10 years in New York. She met her husband and spent some time behind a few off-Broadway stages, but Gibel just wasn’t getting what she wanted.
“We got to a point where it was like, ‘You know, I’d like to have a backyard. It would be nice to not have to worry so much about paying rent,’” Gibel said. “We were just at a point where we were ready for a new pace of life.”
Against all of her intentions a decade earlier, Gibel packed up and moved back to home base, Kansas City. Waiting there for her was a job as company manager at Starlight Theatre.
As the company manager, Gibel’s main goal is for performers to be completely focused on rehearsals and shows, meaning that she takes care of nearly everything that could be a distraction offstage. So making travel arrangements, negotiating contracts, booking hotels and planning meals for the hundreds of cast members are all part of her daily routine.
The other half of Gibel’s professional title is the administrative assistant to Rich Baker, Starlight’s president. She also works closely with Starlight’s board of directors.
“Everyone asks me, ‘What do you have to be to be a company manager?’” Gibel said. “And the first thing I say is ‘organized.’ You have to, there’s no other way of doing it.”
Gibel will company manage Starlight Theatre’s production of Mary Poppins,which runs July 24 through Aug. 2. Find tickets and more info at kcstarlight.com.
Her first exposure to theater: “I do remember coming here when I was really little and seeing ‘West Side Story’ and being totally in awe of it. Starlight (Theatre) has always held a special place in my heart.”
Coming back to Kansas City: “It’s exciting to see all of the theater and art opportunities that are accessible here that I don’t think were as accessible as when I was younger.”
Her favorite part of her job: “I’ve realized throughout the years that, yeah, you can be doing a show, but if you don’t like the people that you’re working with on the show, it doesn’t matter how cool the show is. It’s not as fun. We give each other a lot of trouble, but also a lot of support.
The great outdoors: “The summer I was an intern at Starlight, there was a production of ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ Whenever we have a princess show, we have all these little girls come, which I love. One of the nights for this show, we had a bunch of little yellow Belles walking around, and literally the heavens opened and just downpoured, like horrible, horrible rain. And that night my job was holding the umbrella over the conductor.”