Blame it on the Broadway, but this mensch is defying gravity! We are so excited to tell her story and share why Wendi is such an incredible part of our community.
Alyssa: Tell us everything there is to know about Wendi!
Wendi: I grew up in Katy, so I went to school there and was very active in theatre throughout Junior High and high school. I did a lot of acting and was president of our thespian troupe in high school, theatre was my passion. I was also active in BBYO, I was in BBG 63 all four years of high school and I spent over 10 summers at Camp Young Judea and Camp Tel Yehudah in New York. I made some of my best friends through camp who I am still best friends with to this day, so I had strong Jewish influence in my life growing up. I then went to University of Texas at Austin, Hook em’! I double majored in broadcast journalism and theatre, and was very active in AEPhi at UT Austin as well. After I graduated from college I worked for the Long Center for the Performing Arts doing PR and marketing for two years and in 2016 I got a job offer to be the Director of Marketing for Broadway Across America in Houston which is where I still work and do the marketing for Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas, I absolutely love it!
Alyssa: How did your love of Broadway and theatre begin?
Wendi: I have always been a performer so to speak, I have a very big personality. So growing up my sister and I would make movies on my dad's camcorder and perform dances with each other. I have always been big into the performance aspect of it all. I saw the first national tour of Wicked in sixth grade and was mesmerized, that CD lived in my stereo for about a year. A year before that my grandmother brought my sister and I to see Mamma Mia and I fell in love with it. It all came to a head when the Rent movie came out, and that was it, I was hooked. I even convinced my parents to become Broadway Across America subscribers in Houston. It’s my passion, I love doing it, seeing it, and working in it, so I have immersed myself in every facet of theatre life.
Alyssa: Has your involvement in Jewish life and your love for theatre ever crossed paths with one another?
Wendi: When I went to camp and in BBYO we would do skits and performance and plays, and I was always leading the charge there. That was definitely a way that I could combine my Jewish life and love for theatre. When people ask me what skills I receive from theatre, I say that it helps build confidence, interact with diverse groups of people, perform in front of an audience, market yourself...etc. I feel like these pieces are really important in the Jewish community for our leaders and community members alike who have to work with people, compose themselves, and sell what they have to offer. Especially with all the things going on in the world right now, Judaism is at the forefront and it’s important for us to represent ourselves in a positive way.
Alyssa: When you were at UT Austin, did you star in any performances?
Wendi: My focus in college was more the journalism aspect of it, because that was at the time what I wanted to do with my life, I never was going to pursue the acting part of theatre professionally. So double majoring in theatre was just a way for me to continue to do theatre in college. I wasn’t super active with being in performances, but was more on the journalism side.
Alyssa: So has your interest always been about the behind the scenes action or did you ever want to be the star of the show?
Wendi: Uh, the second one! I wanted to be the center of attention, to act in the shows, I have always loved being creative. I loved to write growing up and when I was on the BBYO board I was brainstorming projects and activities and recruiting new members which was always so much fun. So my job now is kind of a culmination of two things that I love to do. I didn’t even know this job existed when I was growing up, but I was able to combine journalism and writing and my love of Broadway all together. Which is the best!
Alyssa: What is it like working for Broadway Across America? How can people get involved?
Wendi: Broadway Across America is a Broadway presenting company in over 45 cities across America. We work with local theatres in each city and partner to bring the show to the there. So here in Houston we have the Hobby Center who provides the venue and we work with producers in New York to map out the tour, forming a season in each city. Pre-COVID I would sell the season as a whole for the first half of the season, and once we are done selling the packages, each show will go on sale and I will determine with the theatre what the best way to market each show out to the public.
Alyssa: If you could be the lead in any musical, who would you choose?
Wendi: Millie Dillmount from Thoroughly Modern Millie. It was first a movie with Julie Andrews and then became a Broadway musical in the early 2000’s. It’s about this outspoken, driven girl from a small town who moved to New York City. Her goal is to marry a rich man. However, she ends up getting a job and falling in love with a man who is dirt poor. It’s all very classic Broadway, from the music to the costumes, it has everything, and it would be such a fun role to play.
Alyssa: I heard that you just rescued a dog and that your family has a soft spot for a certain breed of dog!
Wendi: Yes, so my family lives here in Houston, in Montrose, and we have always been a Beagle family. When my parents got married they adopted a beagle puppy and ever since then beagles are the Reichstein family dog. In July we lost our dog Liz who was 15 years old. It was a hard time and we were going through a lot. We were like, ok we’ll get a new dog, but we’ll wait for a bit. My mom emailed the Houston Beagle Rescue and asked them to keep an eye out for a dog that would fit well with us, and of course in a couple of weeks they emailed back saying “Surprise! We have this dog that we think would be great!”. Her name is Penny and we brought her home two weeks ago, she is one. She is shy, but as sweet as can be! Our other beagle, Daisy loves playing with her and it's nice to have another dog at home.
Alyssa: Rumor has it that you are a TikTok star??
Wendi: During quarantine I've gotten active on TikTok, so if you like Broadway, Twilight, or me making a fool of myself, you're welcome to follow @WendiReichstein.
Alyssa: Is there anything else you would like to share with our community of readers?
Wendi: When I first moved to Houston in May 2016, I didn’t have a lot of friends still living in the area, so the first couple of weeks I spent on my parents couch, and it was actually a Jewston event that was my first social outing in Houston! Jewston is where I formed my best friends in Houston, so I am really grateful for that. My friend Jenny and I are actually working on a project for those who are starting to or have already aged out of Jewston, so keep an eye for more information on that!
Alyssa: When Jewston comes together we... Wendi: Make Memories.