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The Green Room

Behind the Scenes at WUT: Production Manager Zane Enloe

Posted: 03/05/24

Behind the Scenes at WUT: Production Manager Zane Enloe

If you’ve rented a Wisconsin Union Theater space in the past year, you’ve probably met the incredibly kind, talented and humble Zane Enloe, the Wisconsin Union Theater’s (WUT) production manager. 

Zane is one of the theater production experts who makes it possible for people to host their events in Wisconsin Union Theater spacesShannon Hall and the Play Circle at the Memorial Union. 

He has a wide range of experience in everything from building scenery for a Chicago production company to running operations at a performing arts complex in New York City. This scope of experience positions him perfectly to effectively help bring renters’ visions to life and ensure their events run smoothly. 

When Zane joined the Wisconsin Union’s WUT team in July 2023, he was returning to his alma mater, UW-Madison, where he received a degree in theatre and drama. Today, he is still perfecting the performing arts and is now a mentor to our student team members, as they support our renters in manifesting their visions.

Zane kindly took time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions and give you, our wonderful readers, the opportunity to get to know him and what he does. 

Q: What is a day in the life like for you in your role at WUT? 

A: One of the things that I’ve always loved about working in theater is just how varied the day-to-day can be. Currently, most days are spent looking ahead at our upcoming events and helping people plan for the most successful event possible. Some days are filled with event and production meetings, some days you’re guiding a semi-truck to the loading dock of the Hamel Music Center and setting up for a world-renowned orchestra, and some days we’re setting up for Tank and The Bangas in Shannon Hall.

Q: What were you surprised to learn about WUT?

A: I originally knew WUT for the season shows and the larger events that happen here. I don’t think most people realize just how many events we host for registered student organizations—improv, a capella, storytelling, dance, comedy, music—or how large of a role the Wisconsin Union Directorate Performing Arts Committee (WUD PAC) plays in curating our season. It is really great to see so much programming by students.

Q: What has it been like being back at your alma mater as a staff member? 

A: It’s been great. Not only did I attend UW-Madison, but I worked for the Wisconsin Union throughout my college career. I primarily worked at the old Union South but spent a summer as the gardener for both buildings. I met some of my lifelong friends working at the Union. There are still a few of the same folks around, and it's great to run into them from time to time. Being downtown, connected to the arts community on campus and off has provided me the opportunity to meet some great new people and reconnect with others in a new capacity.

Q: You’ve served in many roles in the performing arts industry, from set-building to overseeing performing arts operations. What has it been like serving in such a variety of roles?

A: The variety is really the thing that I love most about this industry. I worked production in a museum and got to meet a ton of different artists. I toured with a Broadway musical for 9 months and got to travel the country. At New World Stages in NYC, I did everything from custodial and maintenance to running events, coordinating load-ins, and overseeing the operations budget during my 7 years there.

Most recently at the Middleton Performing Arts Center, I was able to design and build five shows a year with a technical team of dedicated high school students. I’ve worked in nearly every aspect of theater and venue management over the past 17 years. I think it provides me with a unique perspective and experience base to pull from, and allows me to see the ‘big picture’ from multiple viewpoints.

Q: What advice do you have for people pursuing careers in the performing arts and finding their professional paths in the industry?

A: I think the biggest thing is to know that it is a viable career path and to not let people talk you out of it. Often people assume that being a famous performer is the only way to be ‘successful’ in the arts, and that simply is not true.

For every person on stage or in front of the camera, there are at least three behind the scenes making it all happen. It’s a huge industry with many different roles to be filled, and the work takes place all over the world.

Q: What productions or artist performances should be on every performing arts lover's bucket list in your opinion? 

A: You know, the big touring Broadway musicals are such a spectacle and a production to put on; they’re hard to top overall. A show traveling with five or more semis full of sets, gear and costumes, loaded into a new theater each week, with a cast and crew of 40+ people… it’s amazing that the show happens each and every night.

But for me, nothing beats a really weird play in an intimate venue. “The Buffoon Glass Menagerie” at the Brick Theater in Williamsburg, being one of my most memorable theatrical experiences.

Q: What is the best professional advice you’ve ever received? And what is the worst professional advice you’ve ever received?

A: Nothing tops being on time and being personable. I’ve heard many people say it, and I’ve repeated it often:  A reliable, trainable, and likable person will be hired time and time again over an extremely talented jerk.

And honestly, I think you can learn a lot from bad advice- as long as you know not to follow it. Sometimes, you don’t know the difference until it’s too late.

Q: You’ve worked with students in multiple roles. What is your favorite aspect of mentoring and working with students in the performing arts industry?

A: I’ve been lucky enough to see a handful of young adults find their calling and educational or career path through some of the work that we’ve done together. A couple of them are just starting graduate school in their chosen disciplines, and I can’t wait to see what they’ll be getting up to very soon.

Q: Why is it important for people to attend live, in-person performing arts experiences? 

A: There’s something about the collective unconscious and shared experience of any type of live show that is undeniable. There are those certain moments that only happen once, and sometimes you’re lucky enough to catch one.

Q: What are some of the top artists in rotation on your Spotify list right now?

A: I’ve been on a The Lawrence Arms kick recently, Bright Eyes/Connor Oberst is one of my all-time favorites, and Sincere Engineer is in there a lot these days, too. 

Q: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not serving in your Wisconsin Union Theater role?

A: I try to spend a lot of time outside with my wife and our 4-year-old. We do a ton of biking and hiking. Ski and snowboard when possible and try to get out on the water when we can. I love to get out and see live music whenever I have the chance.

If you would like to learn more about renting a Wisconsin Union Theater space and the opportunity to work with Zane and our other talented team members on your event vision, visit


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