“Your path doesn’t have to be linear. The only person who has created these rules is really yourself. There is space to explore other parts of yourself.”
“I still don’t feel like I fit in, but I also feel like I should be where I am. I want people, and especially women who want to get into tech, to see that people like me do exist in those spaces. We need to get more of us in there.”
“I wonder what it would look like if we encouraged young students to go into the arts not because they cannot see themselves doing anything else, but because their imagination for what they can do is unlimited. Who says we can’t learn other skills alongside our careers as artists that will provide us enough money to meet our basic needs?”
“It’s important that people see there are folks like me and many others who have found joy in new careers and can still enjoy our creativity in ways that may not be as flashy, but are still fulfilling.”
With COVID numbers spiking in New York City due to the spread of the Omicron variant, numerous Broadway productions have stopped performances as cast members tested positive or relied on banks of covers, swings, and understudies to step into parts they don’t normally play. Stickler’s story caught attention as one of the more extreme examples of someone returning to perform in the midst of an emergency. She spoke with Vulture over the phone about the surreal experience, why she went into software engineering, and how coding is a bit like being an understudy.
Talented lesser known performers are becoming the heroes of Broadway for stepping into lead roles when other performers can’t take the stage due to COVID-19.
When COVID-19 hampered a Broadway musical, they turned to a software engineer to fill the lead role. Having been given only 24 hours’ notice, Carla Stickler was on a plane from northern Michigan on one of the worst travel days of the year to New York City to star on Broadway as Elphaba in “Wicked.”
“I think everybody is really doing the best they can,” she says. “I do think the fact that the show has been able to stay open is a testament to how devoted the actors are to the show and how great and talented the group of people that they have hired over the years are.”
Software engineer Carla Stickler made a whirlwind comeback to the stage as Elphaba after receiving a call to fly to New York for an emergency performance due to COVID and holiday staffing shortages.
“Last night I got the chance to perform Elphaba on Broadway after not having done it since I left the company full time in 2015. To say it was an incredible moment would be an understatement,” Stickler wrote on Instagram, sharing a video of her curtain call.
“I am so overjoyed to have performed with this amazing cast and crew,” Stickler continued. “They helped carry me thru the show last night, and without their energy, cheering me on, I wouldn’t have been able to do it.”