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Alum returns to ASU Gammage for ‘Jagged Little Pill’ musical, Jan. 30–Feb. 4

Anna Cortabitarte’s journey took her from ASU student to assistant company manager for the production

Woman standing next to Jagged Little Pill poster

Anna Cortabitarte poses next to a "Jagged Little Pill" poster in Houston, Texas. She currently is on the tour as assistant company manager. Photo courtesy Anna Cortabitarte

January 08, 2024

Like many students, Anna Cortabitarte began her higher education journey without a clear path to an eventual career.

All of that changed during her sophomore year when she took a specialty class through the theater department at Arizona State University that corresponded with ASU Gammage’s Broadway season.

“It was truly like a lightbulb above my head went off,” Cortabitarte said. “We had a talkback (post-show Q&A) with the company manager of 'Dear Evan Hansen.' At the time, I had no idea what I wanted to do and felt very lost. But everything he said about his role and what his day-to-day was, it was just eye-opening. I went home from that experience and was like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to be a company manager.’”

Today, Cortabitarte boasts the title of assistant company manager on the national tour of "Jagged Little Pill," which comes to ASU Gammage Jan. 30–Feb. 4. She credits much of her success to the time she spent working at the venue as a student.

"Theater was never truly my passion or hobby until I started working at ASU Gammage,” she said. “It was there I realized that I could actually make a career doing this.”

Portrait of young woman with long brown hair
Anna Cortabitarte wears her credentials badge for the national tour of "Annie." Courtesy photo

Born and raised in Chandler, Arizona, Cortabitarte first saw a show at ASU Gammage when she was 6 years old. In the fall of 2017, she began her first semester at ASU with a job as a floor manager at the Tempe theater. Eventually, she worked her way up to assistant house manager. But the gig wasn’t without its challenges.

Going to school full time while also working every single Broadway run was hard, but Cortabitarte said it taught her how to have a good work-life balance. And when "Hamilton" reopened ASU Gammage post pandemic in fall of 2021, she worked with the COVID-19 safety team to ensure a smooth experience for theatergoers, eventually landing a job with the touring company during her last semester at ASU.

"I think my biggest takeaway from ASU Gammage is that creative problems require really creative solutions,” she said. “I think I saw so many times dealing with the general public that crazy things are going to happen, and a lot of times you have to find a crazy solution to be able to appease everyone and create a good and safe solution.”

Cortabitarte went from working for "Hamilton" to "Wicked" as a COVID safety manager, to packing up her things to start work as company management assistant for the "Jersey Boys" run in Yakima, Washington. She then went on to work at a regional theater in Rhode Island before booking a job for the national tour of "Annie." She finally settled into what is now her current role of assistant company manager for "Jagged Little Pill."

“I have a degree in intercultural communication with a focus on how the media affects our views on race, gender and social class,” Cortabitarte said. “Diversity, equity and inclusion are super important to me, and I've always been drawn to working at a show where I know that that's something that I can use. Seeing a show like 'Jagged Little Pill' that touches on so many hot-button issues, but also has one of the most diverse casting companies that I've ever worked with, has been a really cool opportunity.”

As assistant company manager, Cortabitarte is the point of contact for all things travel for the company. She also assists the company manager in running payroll every week, handles union benefit reports and is in charge of all things money.

“Honestly, there's a million other things, but it's very much kind of like being the team mom,” she said. “I handle HR; I’m the shoulder to cry on or the hand to hold, and also the person who has to step in and have the difficult conversations.”

Cortabitarte is looking forward to celebrating her one-year anniversary on the "Jagged Little Pill" tour in her home state when the show comes to ASU Gammage at the end of this month.

“I've been able to make my dream happen, and it's happened a lot faster than I thought it would,” she said.

"When I get to ASU Gammage, I know I’m going to just sit on the stage and cry. I’m excited to have my whole family come out to see the show. Family, friends, teachers — I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them. I'm hoping that I’ll get to talk to some of the front-of-house staff and tell them that they can do it, they can be a company manager. I remember during the pandemic that Arizona felt like the farthest place from Broadway. But if I can do it, they can too.”

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