Thursday, March 20, 2014

Welcome Back, Ryan Klink!

by Pat Blaufuss
Press Relations Manager

Ryan Klink, newly appointed Director of Marketing for the Playhouse, has come full circle. Nearly 17 years ago, while a student majoring in communications at the University of Hartford, he took a summer job at WCP as Press and Marketing Associate, working with Patricia Blaufuss. Together, they kept a lot of marketing plates spinning in the air during the days when the Playhouse was on the summer stock circuit rollercoaster, producing six shows in an intense 12 weeks. Pat, who today is still with WCP as Public Relations Manager, talked to Ryan about his return.

PB: What was your favorite memory of your early days at the Playhouse?

RK: – I have a very soft spot for the Playhouse and the many memories during my brief internship here in 1997. It has become the foundation for my career, so I’m more than delighted to be back. I have several fond memories that still resonate in my head. Taking Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, and later Jerry Herman to television interviews in my old, beat-up college car during the height of the summer without an air conditioner is pretty close to the top. Little did I know how influential those people were at the time. I wish I had been wiser then so I could have maybe picked their brains a little more. But I think more than anything, getting to be the voice for Rocky the Rooster every Friday for the WCP children’s theater series takes the cake. I was the voice, and the tech intern at the time had the privilege of being in the actual costume. Every week I had to tell one children’s joke backstage in the microphone for the audience. My apartment had a stack of children’s joke books that I borrowed from the library! I also had to “cockadoodle doo” into the microphone…

PB: When did you decide to pursue a career in theater marketing? Did your stint at WCP influence you?

RK: After I left Westport, I was still uncertain about theater. I loved my time here and met some amazing people. But I was a Public Relations major and always pictured myself at a major PR firm in New York City or Los Angeles making tons of money (I spent the following summer after Westport in Los Angeles interning for a major PR firm – it was not that glamorous). I was never really a theater person, or at least I didn’t grow up as one. But then I was about to graduate from college, and still didn’t have a job, and I was looking at the classifieds in the Hartford Courant and stumbled upon the Public Relations Manager job opening at the Goodspeed Opera House. The description was essentially what I did at Westport. I went for it, got it, and then the rest is history. I never left theater again.

PB: You’ve been involved with marketing at some high-profile professional theaters and audience development agencies, including Goodspeed, Walnut Street Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, Arden Theatre, etc. What drew you back to WCP?

RK: I went off and sort of did my thing. Figuring out what I wanted to do in life. After four years at Manhattan Theatre Club, for which I had the privilege of opening the newly renovated Biltmore Theatre on Broadway, as well as working on such Pulitzer Prize-winning shows as Doubt and Rabbit Hole, I ventured off into the commercial Broadway world in the ad agency role. I worked on shows like August: Osage County, Spider-Man, Curtains, A Chorus Line, Passing Strange, and all of Roundabout Theatre Company at the time, but there was always something missing. I knew I needed to return to a regional theater, where I could sit at my desk and hear the shows being rehearsed or watch the chandelier on the ceiling in my office rattle from the tap dancing occurring on stage during a weekday matinee. After over 10 years in New York City, I left to become the Marketing Director at the Arden Theatre Company in Philadelphia. With four seasons under my belt in Philly, this position opened up and I thought how cool it would be to return to where it all started---to come full circle. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be back in Connecticut and working for such an historic theater as Westport.

PB: How has the Playhouse changed and how has it remained the same since you were here last?

RK: The passion from the personnel still exists. Everyone loves what they do here and loves being a part of this institution, and after just a few weeks here, you can really feel that sense of family. Sadly, there is no more Rocky the Rooster, though!

As they begin to work together again in the Playhouse’s marketing department, Pat added, “I greatly admire Ryan’s accomplishments in theater marketing. He was my intern a long time ago---and now he’s my boss!”

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