Mark Hoebee has been a gymnast, a dancer, a choreographer, a director, and, most recently, a theater administrator, working as Paper Mill Playhouse’s Producing Artistic Director. He is the first to admit that a career in show business follows no standard trajectory.
“Anybody who tells you this is what you have to do to be successful is full of it because there is no one way to do it,” he said with a laugh. “You can sort of fashion your own career.”
Hoebee will be discussing his eclectic career on Thursday, May 5 at the next MSLCE Speaker Series event at Northwestern.
Hoebee began his theater career reluctantly. He originally trained to be an Olympic gymnast, but had to give it up due to an injury. He danced while attending Northwestern, then got the opportunity to choreograph performances in Chicago. His success there and the people he met eventually lead to an offer to direct Dream Girls in Chicago. The success of that performance earned Hoebee an offer to direct the show for Paper Mill in New York.
“All of the sudden I was a director,” he said.
Hoebee ended up sticking with Paper Mill, first as their resident director, and then as associate creative director, before promoted once more to his current role as artistic director. And Hoebee is the quick to point out that he had zero administrative experience to begin with.
“I had no experience as a theater administrator,” he said, “I never held down an office job my whole life.”
A lack of experience has not held Hoebee back in any of his professional opportunities. He admits he’d never choreographed a show before someone asked him to, nor had he directed before he got the chance.
“In a lot of ways, I didn’t know what I was doing so I didn’t have a fear of what could happen,” he said. “I didn’t know the possibilities of all the negative things that could befall me.”
Hoebee attributes the fact that he’s gotten these opportunities, and the success he’s had with them, in part to an optimistic philosophy on life and an emphasis on being honest and humble with the people he works with.
“One of the lessons is to just be humble and open and listen and be a straight, honest partner with people,” he said. “I’m not afraid to tell people that I don’t have all of the answers.”