The Magic Behind the Scenes
Whereas most 10-year-olds just enjoy the magic when they go to Disneyland, little Bradlee Hager couldn’t help wondering what was going on behind the scenes. Less than a decade later, she came to BYU and dabbled in business management and mechanical engineering before realizing she belonged backstage, creating and overseeing the physical elements that make a story come to life.
“Behind every Taylor Swift, there are a hundred or more people who don’t care about getting their names out there and who just want to tell the best story possible,” Bradlee says. “I watched a documentary on the Mormon Tabernacle Choir that followed their stage manager a lot, and I realized I wanted to be that guy.”
At BYU, Bradlee has been a scenic designer, production technical director, production designer, and technician on at least 10 productions, ranging from stage plays like Chariots of Fire and The Count of Monte Cristo to concerts for BYU Vocal Point. She’s also attended conferences and competitions, and she even went to a training at Disneyland. “I heard lectures from the engineers and learned how they did the sound for the whole park,” she says. “I was in the control room pushing the buttons. It was an incredible experience to see how it all happened!”
Now she’s moving on to the University of North Carolina to work on a master of fine arts in stage automation. Thanks to her outside-the-classroom experiences, she’s confident and ready for the challenges ahead.
“Without the funding for these opportunities—the trainings, the conferences, the lectures from people in the industry—there’s no way I would be doing what I’m doing,” she says. “Donations are so important because education is really about participating, about being there and putting in the work. That’s so much harder to do without these programs.”