Originally from Lake Mills, Wisconsin, Mallory (she/her) has lived in Portland, ME for a little over a year, working at Portland Stage (Perseverance, Last Ship to Proxima Centauri, Sabina) and the Portland Theater Festival (Body Awareness, Pass Over, Pony). Mallory works behind the scenes as a stage manager (and virtual assistant for small businesses across the country) to help foster new ideas and create systems towards lasting positive change. When she’s not backstage in one capacity or another, she’s probably tending to her plants, enjoying an oat milk latte, or catching up with her family (and their pups!) back in WI. You can find out more about Mallory’s work at mallorytopel.com.
Into the Woods, Jr.
This fall, I have been stage managing an all ages production of Into the Woods, Jr. at First Parish Church in Saco, ME. I am so excited to be journeying back 'into the woods' with this fun and energetic cast!
Portland Theater Festival
Over the Summer of 2022, I served as one of three rotating stage managers for the first ever Portland Theater Festival, produced by East Shore Arts and Mayo Street Arts. Following the success of East Shore Arts' The Aliens during the summer of 2021, PTF aims to bring "diverse, inclusive, and exceptional professional theater to the City of Portland. Locally staffed and incubating, PTF offers cutting-edge performances in intimate and found spaces with the aim of promoting a more mindful, more compassionate, and more harmonized community in Maine." Follow @portlandtheaterfest on Instagram for more information or visit their website.
Pass Over Rehearsal (Above)
Photo Credits to Kat Moraros Photography
Pony Rehearsal (Above)
Body Awareness Rehearsal (Below)
Portland Stage - Stage Management Internship
In August 2021, I started a nine-month stage management internship at Portland Stage in Portland, Maine. Their season was composed mostly of new works, and I was excited to be delving more into the artistic process that surrounds a new theatrical piece.
In September, we opened the world premiere of Perseverance by Callie Kimball. I worked as a production assistant and deck chief alongside Equity Stage Manager Myles C. Hatch. You can find more on the show here in a review from the Portland Phoenix.
In November, we began rehearsal for Portland Stage's 25th production of A Christmas Carol. Though we had to cancel our in-person performances of the show due to COVID-19, we were able to record a digital performance of the show. More information about the show can be found here in a review from Broadway World.
In 2022, I filled in as a production assistant in the rehearsal room in the creation of Portland Stage's Senior Living, as well as recently working backstage on Portland Stage's latest new work, Last Ship to Proxima Centauri: "In this Clauder Competition-winning futuristic sci-fi, planet Earth has become uninhabitable. The last escape ship from Earth arrives at its new home centuries after all the others. The pilots are not prepared for what they find there." More information from Broadway World and Portland Press Herald.
I concluded my season with Portland Stage with their long awaited production of Sabina: a new musical about Sabina Spielrein, a student of Carl Jung's whose ideas would change psychoanalysis forever. Through her research, she brought Jung and Freud together and served as a feminist pioneer of her industry. More on the show from Broadway World and the Portland Press Herald.
Perseverance Rehearsal (Above)
Photo credit to Mical Hutson
Last Ship to Proxima Centauri (Below)
Sabina Rehearsal (Above)
Hamlet at Gorilla Rep Theatre
In the spring of 2021, I served as the remote production manager for Gorilla Rep's production of Hamlet. Following the success of Gorilla Rep's Macbeth, director Christopher Carter Sanderson worked with our completely remote company of actors to guide them through recording the show through close-up shots on their iPhones! Look out for more news on Hamlet's release on Gorilla Rep's Facebook page. You can also read more about Macbeth's success here, here, here, or here.
Pictured, Robin Ellis as Ghost joins Henry Austin Shikongo as Hamlet, Sharon Ellman, press representative, and director, Christopher Carter Sanderson to kick off Zoom rehearsals for the project.
A Little More About Me
I love going kayaking on Rock Lake, in my hometown of Lake Mills, WI.
My partner, Kyle, and I love to experience all that the arts scene in Portland has to offer!
I consider myself a breakfast aficionado - one of my favorite spots in Portland is Bayside American Cafe.
Cows are one of my favorite animals - Wisconsin born and raised!
"Her ability to dig into any task, accept the responsibility and be utterly trustworthy, makes her truly admirable. However, what makes Mallory exceptional is her willingness to ask for help and offer help to others. These qualities should not be that hard to come by, but they are. They do not come naturally to everyone, unfortunately. They do to Mallory. She is both determined and compassionate, moving forward and taking people with her.
Furthermore, Mallory grows ever more skilled at being on a team and leading it at the same time, a vitally important quality for a stage manager. All of these characteristics will ensure success in her chosen field of stage management. It takes a specific type of personality to excel at this career: observant, smart, super organized, focused, self-motivated, and an ability to think on one’s feet and communicate calmly in the midst of chaos and stress. This is Mallory Topel. She has a maturity beyond her years, and the personality and skill base to excel in the professional world. I would not hesitate to recommend her for professional employment right now, which means that when she has completed her studies in 2021. Mallory will be able to excel in her career. I have no doubt that, because she is consistently exceptional, as her career progresses she will become a sought after stage manager."
-- Janet McLean, Professor at Viterbo University
"I’ve known Ms. Topel for two and a half years serving as her primary supervisor when under the umbrella of the Fine Arts Center and alongside her while working on the same productions for the School of Performing Arts. In this time I have seen her consistently exhibit strong problem solving and stress management skills and an exceptionally keen awareness of the interpersonal relationships around her.
Trial by fire is perhaps the nicest way of describing the stage management process for our show choir productions where there are over 430 called lighting cues. Due to the operation tempo of the Fine Arts Center this production has a very compressed load in and on stage rehearsal period of 5 days. As such starting on the 3rd day the lighting designer is able to hand over about a 1/3 of the completed show each day. Coming into the week you can prepare yourself to some extent for the brutality of the week compared to most rehearsal schedules, but watching Ms. Topel during the week you would have thought she was doing something as regular as grocery shopping. It certainly may not have been what she thought it felt like, but her composure told everyone she had it and the show under control."
-- Jack Hamilton, Facility Technical Director, Viterbo Fine Arts Center
"[Mallory has] displayed tremendous natural leadership ability during her time at Viterbo and I have rarely seen a student provide such a consistent, steady and mature presence in production related activity.
In her work as a Stage Manager, she has clearly demonstrated that she possesses both the temperament and intellectual gifts to succeed in the field. She is extremely willing to engage in true learning and always eager to discover new tools and approaches familiar problems. Mallory also exhibits a great sensitivity for artistic experience and a deep respect for the creative process. I believe she appreciates to trust of collaborators and the opportunity to provide a well ordered supportive envelope for the creative process: providing the framework necessary to allow the collective energy to be productive. As her skills advance and her confidence continues to develop, she will no doubt find her services in high demand."
-- Frank Ludwig, Professor at Viterbo University