By Morgan Cluck, HGOco Intern
I recently sat down with Molly Dill, producing director at HGO, to talk about how she landed at HGO, what she loves most about her job, and what advice she might give to an aspiring producing director.
After getting her BFA from Webster University, Molly began her career as a stage manager in the musical theater industry. It wasn’t until she began stage managing for operas to make some extra money that she realized how much she loved opera. “I always thought I’d stay in musical theater forever,” says Molly, who is now going on 17 years at HGO. She found passion in theater because it combines most art forms: music, dance, acting, set design, costuming, makeup, and beyond. But as Molly began calling opera shows and sitting in on rehearsals as an operatic stage manager, she realized that opera does all that…only in a bigger way. To her, everything she loved about musical theater was magnified tenfold in opera.
As Molly found her way back home to Houston, she started out as the rehearsal scheduler at HGO. Because of Molly’s natural curiosity and determination to constantly learn more, she worked her way up to being the company’s general manager. In 2017, her position changed to producing director. And let’s be clear: Molly Dill is the queen of all things production. She seamlessly leads the production department as they work tirelessly to put on magnificent pieces of art. She does this with seeming fearlessness and compassion, which radiate as she speaks.
Her favorite part about working at HGO? For Molly, that was an easy one: the passion that resides in everyone at the company. “People deeply care about what they do. If the passion isn’t there, then it’s not worth it. Luckily, everyone at HGO has the mindset of ‘good enough is not okay,’ and that’s the ingredient that makes a show amazing.”
As a young professional about to begin my career in the arts, I would be lucky to have a career path similar to Molly’s. Let’s face it: I want Molly Dill’s job one day. I asked her what advice she might have for someone looking to break into this field. Dill emphasizes the need for inquisitiveness. Because her job demands that she wear so many hats, it was up to her to learn everything she could about the multitude of elements in the industry throughout her career journey. She played around with Excel, asked questions, showed interest in finance, and listened in on artistic conversations about what a “good singer” sounds like. She worked hard. If she didn’t know it, she learned it. She didn’t let a single thing pass her. She stresses that while it’s not necessary to be an expert in every single field of the arts industry, it’s essential to have an awareness of each of these aspects. You don’t need 100% of the knowledge that a musical director has, but you need to know enough to understand what kind of singer is required to perform Wagner. You don’t need to know exactly how to stitch a colonial dress together, but you do have to understand how a performer might feel in one – and how to handle that as a producing director. You need to know enough about everything so you can walk into a room and be confident.
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but for Molly Dill, it gave life to a vibrant and successful career path.