After graduating as a theater major, Dana Lerner ’14 wanted to make some connections on Broadway. So, as a budding entrepreneur, she began networking and investing in Broadway and off-Broadway shows.
Those early connections and projects, which introduced her to the inner world of Broadway productions, have paid off, giving her an understanding of everything from budgets to operating agreements.
Today, Lerner wears several hats – she is a producer, currently working on “Hundred Days” off-Broadway; she has co-produced a successful Tony Award winning Broadway show, “Indecent; “and she is the social media strategist for Broadway Across America, which tours successful shows to theaters in 44 cities outside of New York City. She is also the founder and CEO of Red Pelican Creative, a social media consulting and management company.
Lerner visited campus Nov. 2 for a career conversation with students sponsored by the Arts & Sciences Career Development Center.
“If you believe in something, you won’t let anything get in your way,” she said of her entrepreneurial spirit and desire to produce.Lerner took advantage of her interdisciplinary education in the College of Arts & Sciences, as her love for theatre spilled over into other classes, as well.
“The great thing about Arts & Sciences is the interconnectedness of everything,” she said, describing how she produced a play that her physics professor had written as her final project. “The play was about Hubble and Einstein and we had rehearsals, a stage manager. I was able to use my theater know-how in the physics world.”
While a student, Lerner made tight connections with her professors, who have continued to be mentors and, now, friends. Associate Professor Sara Warner introduced Lerner to playwright Paula Vogel, who wrote “Indecent,” and other professors helped connect her to internships. “I had great professors who believed in me,” she said.
As a theater major, Lerner took classes in every aspect of theatre – lighting, sound, stage management, acting, directing, theatre history, playwriting. “I wanted to learn everything I could about theatre.”
One of the classes that impacted her the most was in commedia dell’arte, taught by Associate Professor Beth Milles. “I think I’ve always been confident, but taking her class woke me up to who I am as a person,” she said.
Before moving into her current role, Lerner was the Business Intelligence Coordinator for Broadway Across America, where she tracked and analyzed all sorts of data for the company, from revenue management and inventory management to logistical costs and theater ticket prices.
Today, she is in charge of creating a community of theatregoers around the country.
“The role of our social media is to promote the show and sell tickets, but an even bigger focus is fan cultivation and engagement,” she said. “Most people want to be feel like a part of a community.”
As a producer and business owner, she realizes the importance of connecting with fans. “You need to be there for your audience before asking them to be there for you.”