Graduate Profile: Kat Lanphear
Before coming to Alma College, theatre graduate Kat Lanphear spent much of her time on the stage acting. As her passion in theatre shifted, however, she found herself more interested in what was going on behind the scenes.
“My first semester, I auditioned for the very first show but was not cast,” she says. “The technical director offered me a position as the assistant stage manager. Because I was game to do anything to get involved with the theatre department, I took it. I got to see what life was like on the other side: building sets, attending light hangs and focus, running the business backstage.”
Lanphear, a 2006 Alma College graduate, continued to accept crew positions for almost every Heritage Center show. She most often worked as a master electrician, which helped her get an electrician job at Tibbits Opera House the summer before her senior year. When she came back to Alma that fall, she knew she wanted to prepare herself for a career in lighting design.
“I took design courses, became the resident designer for Heritage Center events and designed the lights for Months on End for my senior thesis,” she says. “I think it’s safe to say that my extensive experience in the Theatre Department was a great asset to me, as I was able to get into my top grad school choice and continue down the path of becoming a lighting designer.”
Lanphear also interned at a theatre in Chicago during her junior year through the Chicago Center Program. She worked in the box office and assisted with stage management and sound design for the world premiere of Two Grooms and Mohel.
“I had the opportunity to move to a big city and chase my dream of working in theatre,” she says. “I filled in for the stage manager during some shows of a long-running musical. It was a fantastic experience that prepared me for working in a professional venue.”
Lanphear received her master’s degree from Wayne State University in 2009. She works at a Detroit firm that designs lighting for major casino, entertainment and retail projects around the world. Her work can be found in nightclubs on the Vegas strip, hotels in Baton Rouge and casinos in Cincinnati.
“Every day I am working on something new and exciting,” she says. “It is exhausting, but ultimately it is thrilling. I never pictured myself doing this kind of work, but I am amazed at where my skills have taken me over the years.”