Lebowsky Center for Performing Arts
Volunteer of the Month – JANUARY 2020
When Josh Holliday came into the Lebowsky Center in the summer of 2015 to audition for Legally Blonde, no one realized that he was about to become a sparkplug that has ignited this organization in so many significant ways. From his roles on stage to his phenomenal faux painting talents and even his inventive fundraising ventures, Josh’s skills and passion have made him one of our most valued volunteers.
A 2011 Charlotte High School graduate, Josh performed in two high school musicals before attending Michigan State University as an advertising major. His love of theatre grew throughout his college years as he attended all of the Broadway productions at Wharton Center. After spending three years as an intern at Wharton, he was hired by the Arts Council of Greater Lansing to work with artists and arts organizations, advocating for the arts and managing multiple grant programs.
He now serves as the Communications and Public Relations Manager for the Midland Center for the Arts.
“After I performed in Legally Blonde, I could truly see that this theater is a family,” says Josh. “I went immediately from Legally Blonde into doing Ghost the Musical, and I never looked back!” Josh went on to be involved in every single musical since Legally Blonde, most often on stage but sometimes as a producer or member of the stage crew.
One his favorite roles was Scuttle, the eccentric seagull in The Little Mermaid. This role required him not only to fly but also to dance. “I’ve always enjoyed what I call ‘moving and grooving,’ ” says Josh, “but I like to say my formal dance training is from the Erica Duffield School of Dance!” Since Mermaid, Josh has honed his dance skills in many ensemble roles, even as a last-week addition to the cast of Matilda for the big dance scene.
It was during Mermaid that Josh’s penchant for painting was noted by Garrett, when he took a look at a giant shell that Josh and Molly Tipton had experimented after Garrett had told them it needed “some sort of an effect.”
“We blended black, then faded to purple and added some green to design Ursula’s shell,” recalls Josh. “And when Garrett saw it, he loved and it and said, “Great. Now we have a dozen other things that need to be painted.” Henceforth, Josh became the resident expert in all specialty painting—from painting the ocean floor in The Little Mermaid to a checkered floor in Rock of Ages, wood planks in Peter and the Starcatcher, and even his faux marble for the floor and palace in Beauty and the Beast. Josh’s many painting techniques continue to dazzle audiences!
“I just taught myself how to do it by watching YouTube videos,” Josh says nonchalantly.
Josh’s knowledge of arts management led the Board of Trustees to ask him to join in 2016. He also joined the production committee, eager to share his perspectives as a frequent theatergoer in Michigan and in New York City, where he annually sees a handful of Broadway shows.
His marketing background led him to join the marketing committee, and from there he began brainstorming ways to get more young professionals and new audiences to become donors and supporters of the theatre. He came up with the idea of having a Speakeasy—a 1920s themed event hosted at a secret location with a live band. Using his event-planning experience, Josh scouted locations and planned all the details to create a fabulous evening. The success led him to do a second Speakeasy event at a new location last year. “Through planning the first Speakeasy, I was working with the fund development committee, and the next thing I knew they said, ‘ you should stick around for the meetings.’ Well, if you stay around too long at this place you get looped into everything,” Josh says. He now serves as chair of Fund Development.
In the past several months, Josh took charge of two new events—the first-ever Lebowsky Center Halloween party held at the Masonic Temple and the New Year’s Eve party on the stage. “We love to be together with our theatre family and we love to bring new people into the fold,” says Josh. “Since Sue and Carl Ludington are a big part of the ball drop in Owosso, they wanted us all to attend. What better way to get a lot of people out on New Year’s Eve than to have a live band and a fabulous party where we can dress up and all go to the ball drop together!” The event was “wildly successful. Feedback has been great,” he said.
Josh was key in the recent rebranding efforts of the Lebowsky Center for Performing Arts, recognizing the need to establish a process. He set up a subcommittee to explore the idea. “I knew we needed a consistent name. We needed to be thoughtful about who we are if we are to grow and expand,” he explained. “We were very open-minded as we sought community input,” Josh said. “Eventually we reached the point where we were ready to hire an agency and complete the rebranding. I am so proud to be part of the family that is The Lebowsky Center for Performing Arts.”
Look for Josh onstage in Cinderella in the role of Lord Pinkleton!