Alum spotlight: Shelley Miles (BFA ’08)

shelley smiling

Shelley Miles, BFA 2008, Stage Management and Technical Theatre

Shelley got into stage managing before she even knew what it was. In her Williamsburg high school, theatre teacher Gail Albert needed an assistant stage manager for a show and asked Shelley. “I didn’t know what that was, but did it and never stopped.”

Shelley smiling in headset

She met alum Justin Scribner (profiled in the Dec ’19 newsletter, check it out here) when he returned to VCU to teach a class. That connection proved provident, because he ended up getting Shelley into her first Broadway show, The American Plan.

For the past six years, Shelley has been working as a stage manager on and off Broadway, most recently for The Ferryman. She again worked with Justin Scribner on Rock of Ages and was on the pre-Broadway run of Hadestown. One of her most memorable assignments was as PA and sub stage manager on Betrayal with Daniel Craig and Rachel Weiss directed by Mike Nichols, “If you don’t impress someone with Mike Nichols (as most theatre people would be), you get them with Daniel Craig.”

woman holding baby's hand backstage
Shelley backstage with one of the infant cast members of The Ferryman

When COVID hit, Shelley was in the middle of run for Tumacho by Ethan Lipton, directed by her longtime friend Leigh Silverman with another alum Isaiah Howell (BFA 2018) as audio engineer. In the interim, she’s worked on private readings of Anna Deavere Smith’s Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 revival and other shows that are in development. In another VCU connection, she’s spent the past 3 years collaborating with Devario Simmons (MFA ’16) who’s Associate Costume Designer on Soft Power, which premiered at The Public last fall. You can check out Devario’s recent alum spotlight here.

She fondly remembers learning from VCU professor Maggie O’Donnell, “to try to always enjoy the people you’re working with. She told a story about having to bring her child to a tech rehearsal and run the show while holding her kid. Having to overcome that and look to the people for support. That’s the backbone of how I choose my teams.”

Shelley’s connections to VCU continue, “In the past two years in New York, I’ve run into a lot of young technicians from VCU, and that’s been lovely to see. They made me proud and impressed me with their abilities.”

shelley standing in a doorway

Read more about The Ferryman, a BIG production with a 21 person cast, live animals, actual infant actors, and an exhaustive prop list that included an actual, edible roast goose that had to be prepared during the show.

Written by Liz Hopper (Emeritus Faculty) and Jerry Williams (BFA ’71) for the October 2020 Theatre Alumni Newsletter