Lebowsky Center for Performing Arts
Volunteer of the Month – FEBRUARY 2020
When Paul Peters accompanied his middle-school daughter Amber to MASH auditions at the Owosso Middle School Theater in 2009, he had NO intention of being in the show himself. But when director Dennis Bohac spotted him and convinced him that he’d be perfect for a small part with only “half a dozen lines,” Paul was cast as Father Mulcahy. “It turned out that the whole cast was on stage most of the time. At one point, Dennis said I needed to have a ‘gimmick,’ so it was decided my character would have hemorrhoids! I had to carry around a pillow and come out of the latrine with toilet paper hanging off my shoe. I got a lot of laughs and had a great time!” Paul recalls.
Right after MASH, Paul began serving on the Facilities Committee and soon found himself as chair of that committee, thereby also becoming a member of the Board of Trustees. He currently serves on that board as well as serving as head of House Management, a new division that includes front of house and facilities.
Paul’s career as a deputy project manager for Informatix, Inc. in East Lansing aligns well with his theater duties. “Since I am an operations manager, I use those same skills to manage all the volunteers we need up front at the theater,” Paul said. Every show requires a number of volunteers to usher, sell concessions, bartend, greet patrons, and help in the box office. “We know for a musical we need 19 volunteers to cover all of the positions,” Paul said. He posts the jobs by contacting all previous volunteers or others who have asked to become volunteers. “For a musical, we are usually 100 percent filled, “ he said. “But for plays I sometimes have to make a few more phone calls.”
Paul prides himself on making the front of the house area of the theater as professional as possible. “To me, the show begins when you walk in the door, “Paul said. “The ushers are part of the total experience. For instance, for Cabaret the greeters said, ‘Welcome to the Kit Kat Club,’ thus setting the scene immediately for our patrons. Those are the pieces the patrons will pick up on which will make their entire experience more memorable. It’s nice to figure out how we can integrate what we do up front to match what’s going on in the theater,” he said.
Though most of Paul’s on stage experiences were prior to the rebuilding of the Lebowsky with MASH, It’s a Wonderful Life (as George Bailey, which Jimmy Stewart played in the movie), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Bye Bye Birdie and more, Paul fulfilled his dream of performing on the Lebowsky stage as a guard in Shrek. But it was his role as the front of the giant dragon that gave him the most satisfaction. “I was the front and Eric Davis was the back. We managed just fine at several rehearsals. But little did we know they planned to light the dragon’s eyes. About two days before the opening, they added a FIFTY pound battery to the dragon, which really added to the challenge!” Paul said.
Because Paul’s wife Alisa often works evening hours at the ER, Paul has some free evenings to be at the theater. But he often goes above and beyond, as he recently did for Illusionist, Jason Bishop. “I was there from 9 a.m. until 11 p.m., from unloading in the morning to tearing down after the show,” Paul said. During the show, Paul worked backstage, helping Jason by moving on the pieces for the act and keeping things flowing smoothly. “It was very interesting to see the show from backstage, though I still can’t tell how Jason did some of those tricks! He was awesome!” Paul said.
Daughter Amber, now a college senior, returns to usher now and then. “It’s all her fault that I am here!” laughs Paul.
So THANK YOU Amber! And thank you Paul, for your devotion to Lebowsky Center for Performing Arts.