Like many of the people who work at Meany, Noah Duffy leads two lives.
Most of you have seen him welcoming patrons to performances in his role of House Manager for Meany Center. He’s been with Meany since the 2016-17 Season, and became Lead House Manager in September, 2019.
But in his other life as an actor and practitioner of long-form comedy, Noah is the one patrons are coming to see.
Noah’s creative work is grounded in issues of power and privilege, sex, gender, and body acceptance viewed from a queer perspective as comedian Woody Shticks. His inter-arts gang The Libertinis produces show like Nite Skool (or, as Noah describes it, “Things you forgot you never knew you had to learn to remember,”) was an R-rated critique of our education system. And this month he’ll be appearing as the Applesauce Kid (part of the Jewish superhero Hanukkah Hero Action Force) in Jingle All the Gay, playing December 6-29 at West Hall on Capitol Hill.
He also tours nationally and internationally as a solo act. In January, 2020, he’ll debut his new show Liquid Hot at 18th & Union. And in May, he’ll likely be traveling to Ireland to appear at the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival.
Sex, education, art—and House management—have been core to Noah’s life. Growing up gay in a very conservative family, Noah recalls that “access to the arts kept me alive through a difficult childhood.” Dance classes and music offered him a window into a larger world outside of his closed community. He learned to sing, tap dance and play piano—he was even a competitive handbell ringer in high school!
It was an artist who first suggested that Noah become an artist himself, helping him to see “that there are one million ways to be—an important message for gay people to hear,” Noah says.
He started his career in New York—a stint that included years as a professional House Manager Off-Broadway—before moving to Seattle in 2011 where he continued a mix of education, performance, and event management. His resume includes being an event manager at Build-A-Bear Workshop, handling big parties of 500 or more people; teaching at Sweet Pea Cottage, an arts-based pre-school, and touring with the Missoula Children’s Theatre, both teaching and performing.
Once in Seattle, Noah realized that in this production-oriented city, he’d have to learn how to produce his own work. Over the years he’s developed a sharp business acumen to support his art. Budgeting, hiring, marketing, graphics, design—he can do them all. He runs his own production company, Willie Nillie Media, while managing Seattle’s most treasured dance/drag Genius Award-winner Cherdonna Shinatra and her dance company DONNA. Performance, production, and design are so integrated in his life that when people ask him what he does for fun, the answer is “work.”
For Noah, managing Meany’s guests is just another aspect of performance. “It’s important that patrons have a great arts experience from the minute they walk through the lobby doors,” Noah says. “People tend to see me most when things aren’t going well. But our incredible Ushers and Front of House team is always there, whether you see us or not!”
So the next time you’re at Meany Center, give Noah Duffy a surprise by noticing him precisely because he’s doing his job right.