What does Shrek do from 9-5? Did you know Pippin also bakes a mean pie? With this series I aim to answer those questions and more as I peek behind the curtain and learn all about our participants’ experience with AWT and take a glimpse into their robust lives outside of theater. It’s time for AWTea with Mary!
In this episode, we get the AWTea from Liz Beirne!
MARY: LIZ! HI! HELLO! Thank you so much for spilling the TEA with me today. Please introduce yourself to our readers!
LIZ: Hi, I’m Liz Beirne, she/her/hers, born and raised New-Jerseyan, currently living in Astoria. I’m 5 feet tall and I enjoy long walks on the beach and a nice gin martini!
M: Love a Jersey Girl! What’s your favorite beach? Either in NJ or around the world?
L: If we’re talking back home, I have such a fondness for the beach town of Manasquan but if *anywhere* in the world then it’s Sapphire Beach in St. Thomas!
M: Did you grow up near Manasquan?
L: I grew up living in a small town in Bergen County, until I was 14, with my parents and where mom’s brother and his family lived next door to us. I was really lucky that I had my cousins in the same place as me growing up, both around my age, and we’d perform scenes from our favorite movies, musicals and even wrestling moves from the WWE.
M: OMG…is there evidence of baby Liz doing WWE moves?
L: Unfortunately no but I will say that my first pair of eyeglasses, at age 8, were picked solely because they were “WWF” brand and named after the top female wrestler at the time, Sable LOL
Eventually we, my parents and I, moved to Monmouth County down the shore, and that same year we got our family dog, a fox terrier, we named Jersey (I know it’s SO on the nose, I promise we’re not diehard NJ stans), and he filled the void we never knew was missing.
M: Cuuuute! I can tell you are a Jersey girl by your liberal use of “down the shore”! 🙂 Is there one Jersey stereotype you want everyone to know is not true?
L: SO many people are going to hate me for this but almost all the major stereotypes are true in some way haha but if there’s anything I can debunk it’s that we’re not all cheetah print loving, edm/house music listening, “higher the hair,” cawfee-tawk people. Although I do consider animal print to be a neutral and I believe I just described some extended family members.
M: HAHA! I feel like another stereotype is that all people from NJ want to live in NYC. So I guess that one is true in this case! How did you find yourself here?
L: I always knew I would end up in NYC. From the time I was a little kid, my parents would take me into the city to shop, to see a show on Broadway, to see an exhibit at any of the museums, to go to dinner; any reason to me was good enough for me because I would be there! The goal was always NYC.
My first internship was during the summer of 2013 and I slept on friend’s couches in Brooklyn and in the East Village when it was too late to grab a bus or train.
I officially moved to Astoria, Queens in the Fall of 2018 (after many, many apartment searches) and have never looked back.
M: I love Astoria! What are some of your favorite spots people should check out?
L: My favorite spots in the neighborhood are Oliver’s for a casual bite and Madame Marie’s or Diamond Dogs for a fun night out!
M: I used to go to trivia night at Olivers! A great spot! But back to Liz trivia…You also mentioned an internship! What was that in? Tell me a little about your career history.
L: Currently I work in production management at a VFX studio located in FiDi.
My obsession with movies started young. I would devour IMDB and wikipedia to learn more and more about the film industry, celebrities and pop culture. Eventually, this obsession soon turned into a passion during high school when I got my first macbook (with iMovie!) and started filming and editing short skits and lip dub music videos with my friends and younger cousins.
During college, I had the opportunity to intern for local news stations, production studios, independent filmmakers and a nonprofit that specialized in pro bono film work.
After graduating, my first jobs were mostly production assistant work; grabbing coffee, running errands, I even waxed a producer’s leg on camera for a live streamed shoot. (it’s a long story so ask me about it in person!) After a few years doing that, I started working in production management.
M: Was your focus on film production in college?
L: I actually started college a bit aimless, like most, and after a few electives realized that I really just wanted to work in the film industry. I eventually transferred to New Jersey City University and pursued a film degree. The official degree is a B.A. in Media Arts and it was great for me because they gave multiple pathways within the ‘Media Arts’ umbrella: producing, directing, editing, digital media (VFX, composting), film theory and multimedia journalism.
M: Which did you focus on?
L: My plan originally was to pursue an editing career and I really enjoyed post-production. But the more time I spent on sets, and even on student films, I fell in love with the producing route. Setting up budgets, sourcing materials/props/talent, location scouting, creating call sheets/schedules and making sure everything was going according to plan. During my second internship at a production house our leader was the production manager, who really became an unexpected mentor. She would take time out of her day for an hour each week to show me exactly what her job entailed, then eventually had me fill that hour with a task (or 3, it was an internship after all) that was on her plate. I found it both exhausting and thrilling and the rest is history!
M: What are the favorite parts of your job now?
L: I love having my hands in the pot from start to finish, sorting out schedules, making sure we have availability to take on work etc… It helps keep my ADHD self busy, plus I get to watch scenes from upcoming movies and tv shows!
M: Is there anything we can watch that you’ve worked on?
L: Oh yea, there’s a ton on youtube, including a few where yours truly was background “acting.” I worked on an internet news show back in 2015 that needed some extra “bodies” at the computers behind the host. I believe if you look up “BizWire” on youtube, you may just see a 25 year old Liz in the background looking endlessly bored at a fake computer.
M: *Goes to Google BizWire* Let’s talk about your time at AWT. Such a full and busy life, what drew you here?
L: During the summer of 2021, we were in the midst of the pandemic. I started longing for human interaction and to find an outlet that wasn’t singing to my dishes as I cleaned them. I literally googled “community theater in nyc to do after work,” saw that this after work theater group was still taking sign ups for a sing out called “Thoroughly Modern Musicals” and BOOM, my whole life was changed in a 5 second google search.
M: I always love hearing about those serendipitous moments. I know you didn’t really know what to expect, but if you think back to that time, how did the Sing Out experience compare to what you were anticipating?
L: While I didn’t know what to expect coming in, my thoughts were mostly “are the rest of the participants incredibly talented?” (short answer: yes!) but mostly the expectations were pretty low coming in. When we hit the midway point, in came the feelings of “How in the world is this going to come together, I haven’t done this in a while and it must show, I feel like I have 2 left feet, everyone’s getting the hang of it but me, ugh my voice isn’t where I want it to be, I have to memorize HOW many numbers?” But once we completed the choreo for our opening number “Welcome to the Renaissance” from Something Rotten, I thought “okay, this is going to be really good.”
M: That feeling is the best feeling! Which shows have you been in since then?
L: I’m going on my 7th(!) show with AWT:
Thoroughly Modern Musicals, Oct 2021
Dark Side of Disney, March 2022
Shrek The Musical (⅓ of Three Blind Mice / Ensemble) June 2022
Rent (The Man/Mr Grey) September 2022
9 to 5 The Musical (Dwayne) March 2023.
Dance Out 3.0 June 2023
Currently, I am in rehearsals for Dance Out 4.0 and am loving every second.
M: Any memorable friends or memories you can tell us about? Probably too many to choose from!
L: My first friends at AWT were also newbies: Sabrina Getrajdman & Emily Jennings – we all went up to sing together on Launch Day and the rest, as they say, is history.
I would say my most memorable moment on stage was during TMM, performing on stage again after so many years, in a pandemic, singing songs from some of our favorite musicals with the other cast sitting as our audience was such a special moment. To this day, I’m proud of myself for taking that step and joining.
M: So you have some theater experience prior to AWT?
L: I started doing community theater in my home county in NJ during middle school (my first ever show was The Music Man in 2003!) and then again in High School where I was in the musical theater program!
L: Haha well besides Dwayne, which is to say the best role, my senior year of High School I played Penny in Hairspray and that was a dream come true.
M: Has joining AWT encouraged you to do other things outside of your comfort zone?
L: It has! It’s definitely made it easier to approach strangers whether it be at a work event, dating, finding new friends and starting new hobbies!
It also has given me the courage to explore other sides of myself, with new interests, experiences and know that even if it goes horribly, trying something out is better than not.
M: Besides AWT, what are some other interests/hobbies you have?
L: One of my biggest hobbies is painting, another is crocheting (but only a blanket, scarf or a hat!) Since the pandemic, I’ve been involved with the Astoria Mutual Aid – helping our neighbors with meal/grocery deliveries, fundraising and volunteering.
Also, I’m a big advocate for mental health. My own mental health is one of, if not the most important thing in my life. Life can be really hard at times both internally and externally. I’ve dealt with a lot of loss throughout my life, including the death of my father in 2013, and performing has always given me the outlet to fully be myself and let go; enjoying the cathartic experience.
M: That’s so wonderful, I’m glad to hear you prioritize that. Is there anything else you’ve found helpful in your mental health journey?
L: Perhaps obviously, but therapy – having a set time and place where I can vent, brainstorm solutions, work on relationships and figure out what makes me, me with an objective licensed professional is the most important for me to achieve balance. I journal, which I don’t do *that* often but anytime I go through bouts of insomnia or I “catch” myself falling back into unhelpful habits/routines, I pull out my journal and let whatever I’m thinking or feeling out. Sharing certain feelings and thoughts with trusted friends or family is also another coping mechanism I value.
M: Beautiful. I think a lot of other members will be able to relate to that as well. Thank you so much for sharing so much of yourself with me! Now I have some rapid fire questions for you! Think fast!
- What is something you’ve done recently for the first time?
Please don’t laugh at me, but I used a citibike for the very first time a couple of months ago and biked around my neighborhood.
- What makes you happiest right now?
Being 33, living alone in Astoria and being exactly where I want to be.
- What superpower would you want if you could have any super power?
To fly, I would finally get to places on time!
- What’s your favorite stage show?
Hairspray and Heathers!
- What’s your favorite food?
Anything Italian but really linguine with clams.
- What’s your favorite karaoke song?
I Wanna Dance With Somebody
- What’s your dream role?
Sally Bowles in Cabaret or Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors
- What’s your favorite way to spend a Sunday? (when there is no rehearsal 🙂 )
If there’s no rehearsal, you can find me running errands, grabbing a drink or food with friends. If it’s really nice out, then reading in a park for a few hours.
- What’s your zodiac sign and what’s the most “sign” thing about you?
I am an Aries and the most Aries thing about me is my independence, my loyalty and ok yes, being a bit fiery but I’ll chalk that up to also being a short girly.
- What is a piece of advice you’d give to an AWT Newbie?
Trust yourself!!! Odds are, you know what you’re doing even if in the moment it feels the complete opposite! Leave any expectations you may have at the door, I came into AWT with little to no idea of what I was getting myself into and it turned into one of the greatest things I could’ve done for myself. Lastly, have fun and be open to new experiences and people!!