Posted Online: Sept. 04, 2011, 5:00 am

Volunteers play key role behind scenes of Q-C shows

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By Jonathan Turner,

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Paul Colletti
Dale and Marie Ziegler have been active with the Playcrafters Barn Theatre in Moline for many years. The Zieglers have helped with fundraising, accounting, tickets and served on the board.
The Quad-Cities is home to many community theater groups, and their rosters are filled with faces familiar to theatergoers.

But putting on a show requires a lot more than talented performers and directors. The team effort takes a dedicated backstage crew to handle everything from sets, lights and costumes, to sound, concessions, tickets and fundraising.

For a change, we're going to put the focus on a handful of those who work far from the Quad-Cities spotlight:

Nadine Garbett, Richmond Hill Players, Geneseo

Nadine Garbett, 68, got involved with the Richmond Hill Players of Geneseo in 1993, two years after her husband died. The Geneseo resident has stage-managed many shows, worked on the crew on several others, is a past board member, has served on committees, and is a vital part of the bulk-mailing process.

"Ithought this was something I could do when he died," Ms. Garbett said recently. During rehearsals, she has followed the script to help actors with lines; she's made sure all props are in place before each scene during shows; and she's stuffed envelopes for mailings.

"It was a totally new thing to me," Ms. Garbett said of her work on the first of her 21 shows so far. "It was a whole new world. I made friends, saw people I knew in a whole different light. I mainly only do mailings now. It's something that needs to be done."

Dale and Marie Ziegler,Playcrafters Barn Theatre, Moline

Dale Ziegler and his wife, Marie, met while working at John Deere, and while he retiredin 2001 after a 35-year career in accounting and she is currently Deere vice president and treasurer, they both enjoy volunteering at Playcrafters.

Mr. Ziegler, 68, has served two three-year terms on the board, including the post of president, and has been active managing the box office, tickets and the patron services. Mrs. Ziegler, 54, has been active for about 17 years, mainly in fundraising and helping head up 13 years of Mrs. Claus' Cupboard, the former holiday benefit sale that featured gift baskets and decorated Christmas trees.

"I like working with creative people," Mr. Ziegler said. "Ilike theater, being around creative people. I'm not creative myself."

Ms. Ziegler's parents were active at Playcrafters, and as the Mrs. Claus fundraiser grew, they'd start buying discounted items right after Christmas, in places as far away as Galesburg and Iowa City. The couple stored many gifts throughout the year in their basement in Bettendorf.

"I've made really good friends there," Ms. Ziegler said of Playcrafters. "We've had a lot of memorable shopping experiences -- like being at Walgreens at midnight on New Year's Eve. That's a bonding experience."

Patrons have thanked her for improvements, which includenew seats, a new roof, an elevator, a building addition (with new restrooms), a repaved parking lot, and safety features such as a sprinkler system.

"It's affordable family entertainment. We really believe in that kind of entertainment," Ms. Ziegler said. "You get more than you give, in terms of friendship, learning to do different things."

Andy Shearouse, Genesius Guild, Rock Island

Andy Shearouse of Coal Valley is just starting his freshman year at Augustana College in Rock Island, but he already has spent four seasons working backstage for Genesius Guild at Lincoln Park, Rock Island.

He's done set construction, lights and sound operation. This past summer, Mr. Shearouse worked at the Augustana Web Guild, astudent organization that makes websites for community businesses. Its faculty adviser is Doug Tschopp, Genesius' executive director.

"My family has been going to Genesius Guild for years," said Mr. Shearouse, whose brother also worked for Web Guild. "I never thought about doing behind-the-scenes work for them. I gave it a try, and it stuck."

"I really enjoy getting to know all the plays, especially Shakespeare plays," he said. "I really know the plays in and out. There's a challenge of how do you want to make the lights look."

There's less than a week of down time between Genesius Guild's summer shows, and Mr. Shearouse thrives on the deadline rush.

"The sets can really vary, and when we build that, we really have to push to get it done in time," he said.

Joe Goodall, Curtainbox Theatre Co., Davenport

Joe Goodall, a North Scott High School and St. Ambrose University alumnus, also has theater in his blood. His father was technical director at his high-school theater, and he did everything he could in tech while at school in Eldridge.

He acted as well, but also didstage managing, light design and set design at St. Ambrose. Since graduating, the 31-year-old has worked as a stagehand at the i wireless Center in Moline and Adler Theatre in Davenport.

Mr. Goodall -- currently performance-hall tech director at Augustana College in Rock Island -- is focusing on Curtainbox Theatre Co., a professional company in Davenport, where he's serving as lighting designer for its September show.

"ForCurtainbox, I've done everything from scenic design and technical direction -- designing sets and building sets," he said.

"They're doing the kind of shows I want to see done in the area," said Mr. Goodall, who's also business agent for the Quad-Cities stagehand union, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Local 85. "I work with (Curtainbox) because of the quality of work they do, and level of talent they bring to the area."

As a stagehand, he's put up sets, lights, and sound systems; he recently worked 105 hours for the Mississippi Valley Fair grandstand concerts.

"It's cool to walk into the i wireless Center, just a big open space at the beginning of the day, and at 6 that night, it's full of all kinds of staging -- sets, lights, pyro. I find it rewarding to be able to see what you've created, have a hand in that kind of stuff," he said.

"I've grown up with it; I'm more comfortable with it," Mr. Goodall added. "I've gotten an eye for design; I'm good with my hands; and I know how to build something."

Sydney Crumbleholme, Quad-City Music Guild, Moline

A senior at Moline High School, Sydney Crumbleholme loves everything about theater, and she wants to experience it all -- on stage and off.

"I'm planning on getting a bachelor of fine arts in musical theater. Since I'll be majoring in it, I shouldn't just have knowledge on stage. I should be well-rounded," said the performing veteran of 20 shows in the area. "It's just enjoyable, fun to learn new things."

After performing in "Beauty and the Beast" at Music Guild, "Papa's Angels" at Playcrafters and "Annie" at Countryside Community Theatre, Ms. Crumbleholme took a summer "off" to work as a Music Guild usher and in concessions. For the August production of "Music Man," she was on costume crew.

"Ever since I was 3, I could pick up a needle and sew," she said. Her backstage work also has included serving as light-board manager for Playcrafters' "Moon Over Buffalo" and production assistant for "Lend Me a Tenor."

"When Igot experience backstage, I didn't view them as I do now. I realize how much harder their job is," she said. "They put in as much time as performers. I took them for granted, didn't realize how much it actually meant."

Creatingsets, costumes, makeup, lights -- "everyone puts in so much work," Ms. Crumbleholme said. "I didn't get to see that work until now."

She also has taken a new high-school class on stage craft, which teaches about these key areas. Being backstage includes working with many friends.

"There were a lot of juniors and seniors there," Ms. Crumbleholme noted. "And a great thing -- there's always someone new to meet."