From San Diego, to the cold winters of Michigan, and then to New York City where she lives in an amazing Brooklyn townhouse now, Elana Lantry has circulated all over the US to pursue her love of theatre administration. Currently in Development in the New York office of a prominent London theatre company, she’s still working during COVID to find funding for the arts. Last year she ran the NY Marathon, her first marathon in record time and she loves all things Mamma Mia, National Treasure, The Bachelor, and pug related.
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Alice: From San Diego to the cold winters of Michigan and then to New York City where she lives in an amazing Brooklyn townhouse now. Elana has circulated all over the US to pursue her love of theater admin currently in development in the New York office of a prominent London theater company. She’s still working during Covid to find funding for the Arts.
Last year, she ran the New York Marathon her first marathon in record time and she loves all things “Mamma Mia”, “National Treasure”, “The Bachelor”, and hug related. Welcome! Alana Lantry!
Elana: Thank you.
Alice: Okay, so we start off this podcast with some weird questions. Can you tell me about your love for Nicolas Cage?
Elana: All of his movies are pre-atrocious like my favorite is “National Treasure” and it’s like if you took an eighth-grader after just finishing US history and had them write a plot to a movie and then Disney was like totally this is a perfect pitch. Let’s do it! Knowing all of the potholes and all the inconsistencies and then they cast Nicholas Cage in it and I just love that he said yes to that.
Alice: I loved that movie so much. I don’t think It’s like an eighth-grade film. It’s like that’s our American history right there Elana.
Elana: Yes. Definitely, it’s definitely a hundred percent true. There is a bunch of treasure in lower Manhattan underneath the subway.
Alice: I have been definitely trying to convince my French friends that it was a true story and they did they didn’t buy it.
Elana: Like you would never get that from us. Obviously, we wouldn’t give it to you.
Alice: Yeah, exactly. That’s like the real thing. What is your favorite snack?
Elana: My favorite snack? I think it’s peanut M&Ms.
Alice: Hmm. That sounds delicious.
Elana: It’s like a protein and chocolate.
Alice: Yes. That is great. That’s how I feel about public tea. It’s like a drink and a snack at the same time. You have got to have a Dual snack.
Elana: You do. We have got to spread our net wide.
Alice: Okay talk to me about your love of the bachelor. Have you been watching this season?
Elana: Okay, so I’m I mean I love “The Bachelor” because it’s great. It’s just like, it’s wonderful television. It’s Monday night, I guess now it’s Tuesday night.
Alice: Yes. It’s so weird how dare they.
Elana: But it’s just like it’s, why I like I just like wanted shouldn’t exist anymore. But I love that it does, it is just so incredible like why do we have this still but we need it, you know.
Alice: I need to break out during covid. That’s what I need.
Elana: What we need is Tasha. What we don’t need is Claire. I feel strongly about that. Claire was bad for the world and they realize that and went, you could. Then they gave us Tasha. And Tasha is like she gives everybody a chance. She wants to hear everybody’s story, you know. She loves everybody equally like she looks the good ones the best. But like she’s still gonna hear and listen to everybody and I feel like that’s what 2020 needs.
Alice: That is so true.
Elana: Let us give everybody a shot.
Alice: Although, I really hope Claire and Dale make it. I’m just like please we need this love story to last like if this bombs then 2020 is like, where is the success story there? I need that fairy tale.
Elana: Yes. We do need them to at least make it like a year. A year I will count as a success.
Alice: I want them to last two years so she could keep that ring. Oh my God! It’s huge!
Elana: It is so big.
Alice: It is so big.
Elana: Yes. It is like the size of her entire fist knuckle.
Alice: I would be so scared to wear that outside in the world
Elana: It has got to be insured.
Alice: I would like to cut off someone’s finger for that. Give me your finger.
Elana: I mean like she must have it like lojacked.
Alice: Yes, seriously. Oh, man! Okay. So you’re in the theater world. Tell me about the favorite play you’ve seen.
Elana: So like this is a really hard question because I feel like there are just so many different types, you know. If I’m going for a bad musical just like have a good time. I think it’s a hundred percent of “Cher show”.
Like Stephanie J Block worked hard on that show, and she was great but the rest of it was pretty poor. But like a great time. And then if you’re going for an actually good musical. I would say “Hade’s town”. Sorry. There’s a dog in the background.
We’re surrounded by pugs. Hadestown and then like I think play like this is kind of going to sound trite but I think my favorite play is “Angels in America”. I have a hard time recommending it because it’s solid six hours long. But it’s like it’s a classic and it’s so good. It makes you want to change the world.
Alice: It really does. After you see it? You’re like, I can do anything.
Elana: Really, Reagan is the worst and I want to fix everything.
Alice: Okay and speaking of like bad musicals, you love Mama Mia.
Elana: I do love “Mama Mia” I love Mama Mia a lot. I think it’s some of Meryl Streep’s finest work. I really do. I think Mama Mia, it’s just so much fun to take Amanda Seyfried and a lot of bad singing and classic Swedish pop tunes. You put them on a beach in Greece. Like Abby is not even from Greece there from Sweden and it just doesn’t make any sense, but it’s so good. It’s so fun and everybody ends up happy. She gets three dads. She wanted one. She gets three.
Alice: It’s perfect. Yes, who doesn’t want it? And it just looks so beautiful. I want to go to that Island.
Elana: It’s like I think Greece is on the top of my list for when we can travel again safely post covid. I’ve never been to Greece and I really want to go.
Alice: You should recreate all of Mama Mia.
Elana: I really want to. I definitely have to at least get on a sailboat with my three dads and go circling like minimum.
Elana: Handmade guitar. They will serenade me. I will paint a portrait. It’ll be great.
Alice: Oh my gosh. Can you talk to me a little bit about how you got into theater?
Alice: So right in theatre admin, and you went from stage management into admin, Can you talk a little bit about your journey?
Elana: I got into theater kind of as an accident. I was in high school and freaking out about college apps and I decided that I needed more extracurriculars to get into a good college. And so I started on like technical theater running crew and I just like really loved it. And so I stage-managed in high school and I went to the University of Michigan and got a BFA in stage management and kind of while I was there. I was able to take classes in producing and Company management, General management and really got an overarching education and not just theater and the technical aspects of it, but really a full education and I found that stage management while I think it’s a lot of fun and it’s a really big adrenaline rush and whenever you’re calling a show, I do miss that but I don’t miss freelancing.
So one of the reasons that I really love theatre admin is that I work year-round. I work for one theater. I don’t have to bounce around. And I get to kind of see an over-arch of a season whereas if I were stage managing. I would kind of just be all over the place. But I really like to be able to kind of see holistically and I love the aspects of theater admin that are more kind of budget crunching and numbers and contracts versus stage management, which is really implementing all of them all of the technical elements.
So they’re both kinds of the same skill set but one is taking more of a legal and numbers approach to a kind of making the place run versus making the play happen.
Alice: Yay. They’re both so important and both jobs I never want to have. [laughing] Yes. Totally different. Yes, That is awesome though. And what exactly do you do in development? So you’re in charge of the overall numbers, can you talk a little bit about what it is.
Elana: So, development is fundraising. So we are in charge of raising money that does not come from ticket sales. So we are taking philanthropic contributions. So my job, in particular, is that I am in charge of planned or legacy giving which is getting donors to leave requests in their will. So that when they do pass on a big band of leaving portions of their estate to us, which is a really important overlooked aspect of fundraising. Because it can be a huge revenue stream and something that really does make theater happen. One of the reasons that I really do love fundraising is that without fundraising for any sort of nonprofit. It just wouldn’t exist. It is kind of what’s behind the scenes making it run. Often when you see anything that is named, so if you’re seeing or if you’re taking loyal Playhouse, for example. The moods Kedatski lab. That is named in a bequest. I’m pretty sure. That’s often how naming rights happen is that I will give you a million dollars and you will name this after me and then I will kind of live on through this nonprofit.
It is a great way to kind of make a donor feel like they have a lasting impact and that there are important and that they mean something because they do. And also ensuring the vibrancy in the health of theater moving forward.
Alice: Wow! that’s really interesting. How how do you go about talking to… we can cut this if this is too much. But how do you go about asking people to put you in their will?
Elana: It depends on the type of donor. Plain gifts are a really popular kind of donor that is somebody who doesn’t make a lot of money but is really passionate about your organization. So somebody who’s like a lower-level member or who travels to London once every five years or they studied abroad their back when they were in their twenties.
They just go and see our shows either in New York or in the cinemas and they just got this really lasting connection to the institution and so they feel that even though they don’t have the capacity right now to give because it’s a pandemic or just because they’re not exorbitantly wealthy, but they do have a nest egg.
So they’re afraid to kind of to part with that right now, but they know that once they’re not here doesn’t you know, they don’t have children or they don’t have a spouse and so it’s more of a conversation of you know, where do you think what do you envision for theater in the next fifteen years or the next twenty years and the next thirty-five years? How can we help you accomplish that?
So you’re not necessarily saying you’re not going to be here in the next fifteen years, but you’re saying, The kids will be and how can we ensure that they get the same experience that you got?
Alice: Wow. Interesting.
Elana: It is a lot of testimonials from other legacy donors and it’s also just pulling on heartstrings a little bit. So, I would never go up to someone and use the words death or dying but I do invoke that sense.
Alice: Wow, that’s really interesting. I feel like I have some Catholic guilt that I need to like share and spread. That’s really interesting. Let’s move on to a different topic. You have run the New York City marathon last year which is amazing. You were training for over a year and ran like a number of different runs. I don’t know what that’s called, marathons?
Elana: The training runs?
Alice: Training runs.
Elana: Or races?
Elana: There you go.
Alice: But it’s amazing that you went for it with the marathon and that was your first marathon ever. Can you talk about that experience?
Elana: Yes. I decided to run it because when I moved to New York I think in 2016. I kind of lived there without a plan. I bought a one-way ticket and I was subletting for a few months and I just kind of like “this is where I want to be”. It just so happened that I touched down and then the very next day I decided to go to Central Park and the New York City marathon was happening and I want to do that.
That looks like a lot of fun and like how incredible and I did a program called nine plus one with the organization that runs the marathon where if you run nine races and volunteer once the year prior you get to do.
It doesn’t matter your time and anything and so that is what I did and I spent a good long time training for that. It was I want to do it like every year from now on it was so much fun. I highly recommend it. It is just like the whole city comes out for this race and you run through every single burrow and there are cheers and crowds everywhere and everyone’s got signed. It is like a giant block party across all of New York City and you end in Central Park, which is just so perfect.
Alice: It looks amazing and just being able to follow you around last year and see where you are and she beat her time which was amazing like by a lot. Yes.
Elana: Yes. I thought I was gonna go really slow and kind of like soak it all in but the adrenaline gets to you and you just kind of sprint it. But it was so fun. It was incredible. I love every second of it.
Alice: That is amazing.
Elana: My whole family came out and it was so much fun.
Alice: Yes. and just like getting to celebrate afterward and like seeing everyone cheering you on. Oh, that’s just amazing. Yes. You will have to pick it up next year.
Elana: Next year.
Alice: Around and able to do things.
Elana: I was kind of sad earlier this year because they’re just like you kind of continually canceling the various races that they have and one of them I was signed up for the New York City half marathon. So you start at Prospect Park, which is right near my house. Then you end in Central Park that you run through Times Square.
Elana: Which is super cool because they closed down Times Square for you and when does that ever happen?
Elana: And my sister turns to me and she goes, “you know, you can just do that now because the city is empty, just run through Times Square. Just go for that. I’m like, Oh my God, you’re right! So I am going to do it for myself.
Alice: You should!
Elana: I am going to treat myself, yes.
Alice: That is so cool. Wow. Because there is no one there.
Elana: There is no one there. It is crazy empty.
Alice: Yes. I was actually just reading an article in the Times this morning that was asking, should midtown convert the empty offices into residential places because there is literally no one, and I was also reading about the back taxes of real estate in the area. I guess Valentino hasn’t paid one point five million dollars, which is what they pay every month for their spot on Fifth Avenue. What? That’s insane. Something has to be done with New York or else people aren’t going to come back.
Elana: No, I was there pretty much through the entire pandemic, and the way that I would see my friends, we would run together. The route that we would go on through neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Whenever we were doing it on a Saturday. It was just covered in leftover stuff from people moving. It was like a mass exodus. It is crazy.
You wanted free stuff, then was the time.
Alice: You get free stuff?
Elana: I did get some free stuff.
Alice: That is awesome. I love that part when Columbia moves because that’s where I live near Columbia when they all moved out and you are like, “Yes this printer that I have needed”. “Ooh, this is chair”. It is great.
Elana: Oh my God yes.
Alice: They are all rich kids. I am like, I am living the best time.
Elana: Oh my God. I was running through Park Slope and I was “If I had kids this would be great. I could take so many fancy… because they are free. There are so many fancy strollers and stuff. No, but I got a lot of like end tables and things.
Elana: I do not want to take anything cloth because that still makes me nervous but anything I could clean I was like totally.
Alice: I got my dining table for free in the East Village like a couple of years ago.
Elana: Did you really?
Alice: It was just in the trash and I just left it in my backyard for a couple of days and sprayed it down with Lysol. I loved it.
Elana: How did you get it all the way up there? Did you get an Uber?
Alice: I took a taxi.
Elana: You are carrying a big table on the subway.
Alice: It is my table. But it was free.
Elana: It is the best. I loved that.
Alice: Yes. I do it is great. Constant garage sale but free. Something that we always ask on this podcast is what is your definition of womanhood?
Elana: I think my definition of womanhood is, like a person that kind of takes on the world, you know. We are expected to just do everything. I feel like that can be overwhelming but we do well, you know. Women do run the world even if it is behind the scenes. You have got, Kamala Harris being Joe Biden’s number two, but we’re still there. We are represented and we are running the world.
Alice: I think that’s awesome. Yes, you are running the world too. Keep it up. If you could give advice to just a random lady on the street and you just had a sentence to give her what would you say?
Elana: I think I would say to take every chance. I feel like every job that I have had so far in my life that has been worthwhile has happened by some crazy connection or some weird fluke that just we’re just kind of appears. I have never been upset that I took it. So I think, just take every opportunity that lands in front of you if you can
Alice: That’s amazing. Thank you, Elana.
Alice: Take every chance. We should all be doing that. Yes
Elana: “Take every chance”.
Alice: Is there anything else you would like to add to our listeners today?
Elana: I don’t think so. I think that is all for me.
Alice: Thank you so much for being on.
Elana: Yes, absolutely.