Christi Figueroa (BFA 1999) grew up attending theatre and opera performances with her parents, but she did not really get involved in theatre until her senior year of high school. When she was applying for undergraduate programs, she intended to major in pre-physical therapy, but it soon became clear that theatre was something she wanted to pursue.
I had the chance to ask Christi about her experiences in theatre, especially at Texas Tech.
How did you make the choice to change your major and your time at Tech?
I thought that I wanted to be a scenic designer, so I told my dad that I wanted to change my major. My parents were always very supportive, so he did not care about the subject I was studying just so I graduated in four years. I did everything the program had to offer, including scenery, costumes, lighting, and everything in between. Along the way, I discovered my love for stage management sometime during my sophomore year; I stage managed my first show, and I just fell in love with it. I was actually a part of the inaugural Angel Fire summer program in 1997, where I gained experience in all of the technical areas.
Can you describe how your career began to take shape after graduating from Tech?
During my senior year, I was offered the opportunity to be a part of the stage management mentorship program at USITT, which is what helped me to decide to attend grad school to earn my MFA at the University of California-Irvine in stage management from 1999-2002. While there, I earned an internship opportunity with South Coast Repertory in Southern California and continued to pick up gigs with them throughout graduate school.
After I finished my degree, I did a summer repertory season at a theater in New York alongside several other Texas Tech alumni, followed by a full season with South Coast Repertory. After that, I was hired by Disneyland, where I worked from 2003-2012.
After spending so long at Disney, how did you find yourself at Cirque Du Soleil? Can you describe your current role?
In 2012, I moved to Vegas because I was about to get married, and my fiancé was already working at Cirque. My first year in Vegas, I freelanced, but eight months later I got the call for my current position as the stage manager for Cirque, and I've been there ever since. We typically do shows five days a week, Saturday through Wednesday. Throughout the week, I am responsible for calling and running all of the backstage tracks and office work to support each show.
We run 48 weeks out of the year, between 450 and 470 shows a year. The show for which I am working has been running for a total of 18 years now. I love its huge scope, and how demanding it is to coordinate such a large endeavor.
Where do you see yourself going next?
My goal is probably to move back to Texas to be closer to my father. My mom currently lives five minutes from me, so I hope she will follow us to Texas so we can also be close to my father. My dad's in excellent health, but Covid has made us all realize that the time that we have with our loved ones is finite; he bought a 20-acre piece of property between Houston and Austin, so I may find myself running Fig Bee Farms soon!
My husband and I would like to live closer to Austin, where we can both still work in entertainment. I've been fortunate to have consistent employment these last 25 years, and I'm not ready to pull out just yet. I was burnt out in 2019 right before the pandemic happened, but that virus just showed me I wasn't done stage managing.
What does being an alumni of Texas Tech mean to you?
The School of Theatre & Dance gave me the baseline for the career that I have today. I discovered how to be a stage manager and my career has allowed me to build on that foundation. One of my best friends, Whitney McInally, who graduated a year after me at Texas Tech, is the production stage manager for LA Opera and works summers at the Santa Fe Opera. We had the same education, and I love the fact that, although our paths diverged, we both have worked professionally in stage management for decades.
Tech was some of the best years of my life. I had a great time there and gained the education that allowed me to secure my 25-year plus career in stage management. I also made some of my best friends like Whitney and Ryan Barb. I'm thankful to Tech for teaching me the skills that fostered my success in the industry.