We had the good fortune of connecting with Sammy McManus and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sammy, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I grew up loving the arts, so after college I worked with a few different well known arts organizations in Houston. The one thing that I noticed about each of them was how much of the talent was brought in from out-of-town. As a young creative, I saw first hand how much local talent was in our city and decided I wanted to create more opportunities for them. Firecracker Productions was born from an idea with a group of friends to do plays the big theatres weren’t doing, and to always showcase local talent in our shows.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am most proud that over the course of the last 5 years, we have managed to continue creating art that has consistently supported and strengthened our mission- regardless of funding challenges.
I have a Masters degree in Arts Leadership, so my education was definitely helpful. However, building a theatre in a city with large regional houses is not easy. We have spent a lot of time creating connections in our community in order to continue to grow. One of the things that I believe has led to our success is our ability to change and adapt.
I wish more people knew that small theatres house just as much talent and skill as the big-budget theatres. Our productions have been consistently well-reviewed by local critics and yet people are still hesitant to take a chance on us.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Obviously I think people should check out a show at Firecracker Productions! Some of my other favorite theatres are Mildred’s Umbrella, The Ensemble Theatre, Catastrophic Theatre, and the Fade to Black Fest. I also love visiting the Museum of Natural Science and Museum of Fine Arts. In addition to the normal exhibits, both museums host fun events.
Axelrad is a great beer garden, and they always have local food trucks to try. Bar Boheme is another cool spot, and they host a lot of local artists.
If you’re an outdoors person, you have to check out Buffalo Bayou Park and the Cistern.
There’s so many great local places to eat in Houston; I would start with Niko Nikos and El Tiempo.
If you’re willing to venture out of town a little, the Showboat Drive in is a really cool way to watch a movie on the cheap.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My outrageously talented husband- who has been on this ride with me since the beginning- Mark McManus.
The founding members of Firecracker Productions: Pete Mueller, Guillermo and Lindsay Corona, Val Allsworth, Robert and Waldron Archer.
The current team behind FP: Dani Bunch, Eddie Edge, Paige Thomas, and Mark McManus.
To every artist and critic that has ever taken a chance on us.