How Are Theatre Professionals Made? Part 1: A Homegrown Angel

by Jillian Carter

Ever find yourself wondering how someone becomes a theatre professional? Especially in Lincoln, Nebraska? If you have, you are not alone. One of the biggest questions we receive at Appearing Locally is “How do you get work in theatre in Nebraska?”

As part of a new series, “How Are Theatre Professionals Made?”, Appearing Locally explores what brought some of Lincoln Theatre Alliance’s foremost members to the theatre originally and their paths to Lincoln theatre specifically.

Julie Hagemeier is the general manager of University of Nebraska – Lincoln Theatre, which is a heady title to be sure. However, Julie’s theatrical journey had much humbler beginnings.

Like many production staff, Julie was first smitten with the acting bug. Acting in church productions and then elementary and high school plays, she found her “first love, theatre.” It was in her very first performance as the angel Gabriel, in a church production at the tender age of four, that Julie discovered a talent for directing that would follow her throughout her professional life. When a couple other angels weren’t doing what they were supposed to, Julie stepped in, stopping the play to direct the pint-size miscreants herself. As Julie recalls, “My parents were mortified, but my directing career was born.”

Apparently fighting against her passion for theatre, Julie enrolled as a freshman at UNL planning to major in broadcast journalism. Surely the Lincoln theatre gods breathed a collective sigh of relief when she quickly changed her mind and switched to theatre. Before graduating from UNL in 1977, Julie worked with Nebraska Repertory Theatre on the costume crew.

After graduation, she taught high school theatre for 13 years, but the University of Nebraska kept calling her, attracting her to work some summers for the Rep and finally return for graduate school in 1991. She has been working with the Nebraska Rep since the summer of 1992. She was hired as the General Manager March 1, 1995. For almost 24 years, Nebraska students, artists, and audiences have been blessed to have Julie Hagemeier leading one of the finest theatre programs in our region.

From all of us at Lincoln Theatre Alliance and beyond, thank you to those little misbehaving angels for pointing Julie Hagemeier in the right direction!


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