Amazing Asians in the Arts: Maxine Gutierrez
Name: Maxine R. Gutierrez
Heritage: Filipino – 1st Generation American!
Hometown: Bucks County, PA, USA
Current City: New York City!
Current Project: Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway
What are some of your favorite credits/projects?
All of them, really. Each project became valuable experience for me to continue building and cultivating myself and my work.
What are some interesting facts about yourself?
I’ve had a show in all 50 states, plus D.C., and 7 countries. Every load-out on tour, I’d wear a bright super cape. So many stage crews throughout the US know me because of my cape!
Do you have any favorite moments in your career that you’d like to share?
Usually when reviews are released, you don’t really hear much about the sound of the show. “No news is good news.” If nothing is said, that means it went fine, or unnoticed. On the Evita Revival National Tour, there was more mention of good sound/music reviews than I’ve heard of ever appearing.
Any advice for young people getting into the arts?
Ask questions and keep learning. Also, observe other artists around you – their process – it opens more understanding and appreciation.
Do you have any organizations or non profits you work with you’d like to highlight?
Open Stage Project introduces young women in high school to off stage careers in theater; anything from crew, management, producing, marketing, press and more! www.openstageproject.org
How did you get your start?
Oddly enough, I didn’t grow up with theater, or sound, per se, but I did grow up listening to a lot of different genres of music. In high school, I was honor roll, solid band geek, sports, student council. Eventually, I unexpectedly landed a job at a local theme park. I learned a lot of technical theater skills without even realizing it. I ran shows, maintained systems, props, parade floats, costumes. This opened the door to the world of touring through a connection with other employees at the park. That’s how I got my first tour – the front-of-house engineer for the very first KidzBop Live Tour. This ended up making way to another happenstance, where another production company needed another mixer, and I was recommended. This phone call landed me the National Tour of CATS – my first theater anything! I love it, embraced it, and kept going.
Who do you admire?
I truly admire passionate people. They can be passionate about music, art, math, science, space! They fully envelop themselves in it. They strive to continue learning and challenging themselves. It’s a level of love and dedication unmatched, and that’s really cool to learn something new from someone so passionate.
What skills did you find to be the most helpful in your career?
My music background definitely helps in mixing live. Being able to understand the music itself, know its dynamics within the performance, and assist in telling the story that is onstage. In addition to that, one of the best skills you can have is being able to adapt to change. Anything can happen, whether a gear malfunction, a mid-show cast change, a truck not arriving on time, anything. To be able to adapt while still having the end result, the show in focus, is so valuable.
When did you know you wanted to have a career in theater?
Once I had my first tour with CATS, I knew. It wasn’t just about “yes, I could do the job,” or “yes, I can live out of a suitcase.” It was about the people around me. It was the musical and technical challenges that were presented to me and I took on. It wasn’t that I could “Fit” here. I felt I “belonged” here – the work, the community, the passion of cultivating ourselves and each other, and seeing it as an adventure.
Where did you study at?
I went to school at Penn State for Electrical Engineering with a concentration in Signal and Image Processing. I wanted to go to school in an arts/music program, but I feared the stereotype of the “struggling artist.” As a teenager, I was afraid of financial security, so I went to engineering school. Little did I know that the arts would still consistently call me. When I discovered sound engineering, mostly studio work, Penn State did not yet have a program. The closest was a Master’s program in Acoustical Engineering. The undergraduate requirement was electrical engineering, so I took that major and upon graduation, I took an internship as a studio assistant. After that internship and working at the theme park, I just took on the mindset of “Let’s see where this takes me!” and continued to challenge myself.
Side note: I’ve also earned certifications in Web and Multimedia Design, Music Business, and Music Supervision.
What have you found is the biggest challenge in your career? Your greatest accomplishment?
Both of these questions . . . I’ve had many challenges and I’ve accomplished many, with the help of those who have supported me. I continued to be challenged, to create solutions, to be innovative to grow and cultivate. Practice makes progress. The greatest? The biggest? I say keep going. I’m not there yet.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love that I am also performing with the rest of the cast and musicians. I’m just as “in the moment” as they are. My “work” is combining technology, music, orchestration, and yes, book scenes, into storytelling. From subtleties to “in your face,” dynamics create emotional value, aurally illustrate sweeping movement. It can pull you in and release you in catharsis. I love my “job.”
To find out more about Maxine, visit her at: