Meet Gerald Henley, Director of Production and Facility Operations

June 27, 2024

Director of Production and Facility Operations, Gerald Henley, oversees facility operations, health and safety, production and stage management for the Center. After 20 years with your Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, Gerald is now entering retirement. In the spirit of celebration, let’s shine the spotlight on some highlights during Gerald’s time with your Fox Cities Performing Arts Center.

After receiving a degree in applied saxophone as well as pre-law, Gerald’s professional life explored various career paths in the industry. He was a stage manager at Summerfest for 40 years and worked as a tour manager and tour accountant.

Since I was nine, playing the saxophone, I knew I wanted to and would one day be in the entertainment business. Whether it meant being onstage or in back of house, I was going to be in the industry. I got on that path and stayed true to it.
Gerald Henley – Fox Cities P.A.C.’s Director of Production and Facility Operations

In 2003, Gerald joined the Fox Cities P.A.C.’s team as a stage manager while he was employed as a stagehand with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (I.A.T.S.E.). At the time, he was helping prepare the Center to welcome Broadway’s touring production of The Phantom of the Opera for the first time. Gerald has since transitioned into many positions from stage manager to production stage manager, technical stage manager to director of production, leading him to his current role.

Gerald often starts his day answering emails, averaging 120/day. Being responsible for many facets and teams at the Center can present challenges. Building maintenance can be unpredictable, resulting in occasional, unexpected repairs. “A lot of balls get tossed in the air, but we stay organized,” Gerald shared. “I have an awesome team that works together to navigate through those challenges.” He also retains good working relationships with other venues, connecting with their teams to answer questions and offer advice. “Since I’ve been here so long, many of the arts professionals newer to the business will seek my advice,” Gerald commented.

One of Gerald’s favorite aspects of his role is assisting in booking shows by sitting on the Center’s programming committee. After running numbers to ensure it makes economic sense, Gerald brings his suggestions to the committee. “Some people have an eye for art – I have a pretty good eye and ear for musical talent,” Gerald remarked. “I’ve been in this industry for 60 years now, so I have a good sense of which artists will be good to bring to our community. I have a lot of great memories working with and entertaining a lot of high-caliber artists.”  Through his role, Gerald shares the many wonderful things there are to do in the Fox Cities.

Interacting with the many artists who come to the Fox Cities P.A.C. is possibly my favorite part of the job. I’ve golfed with Alice Cooper and Ron White and played basketball with Harry Connick Jr. It’s amazing to have the opportunity to get out, do things or enjoy a meal with casts of touring Broadway shows, comedians, musicians and singers, showing them around the city.
Gerald Henley – Fox Cities P.A.C.’s Director of Production and Facility Operations

Over the years, Gerald has been instrumental in bringing various big names to the Fox Cities P.A.C. including Diana Ross, Steely Dan, Jay Leno, Harry Connick Jr., Alice Cooper, Halestorm, Chelsea Handler, Jim Gaffigan and TobyMac, just to name a few. “I really enjoy booking some of the artists, especially when people tell me it’s not going to happen or that they won’t play Appleton, Wisconsin,” Gerald remarked.

These last 20 years have been just unbelievable. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity in my lifetime to do something like this. The people I work for and with are unbelievable. We feed off of and learn things from one another. I’ll miss everyone at the Fox Cities P.A.C., but it’s time for the next generation to step in with new ideas and a whole new way of doing things.
Gerald Henley – Fox Cities P.A.C.’s Director of Production and Facility Operations

Written by Philomena Dorobek, Brand Storyteller
Fox Cities Performing Arts Center