The Lawrence Arts Center fosters talented artists of all ages in dance and theater, but behind the scenes are many creative teams that help make productions like The Snow Queen possible. On some occasions, those who usually are behind the scenes step into the spotlight.
This season it is the Arts Center’s crack development team that is working late for different purposes. Development Director Cindy Hart is playing Gerda’s Grandmother, while Development Coordinator Alex Olson has taken on the role of The Finn Woman, of Finland. Both have found that being part of a production has increased their understanding of the Lawrence Arts Center’s role in the community.
Alex, who coordinates donor appreciation and assists with sponsorships, feels that participating in The Snow Queen has expanded her perspective both professionally and personally.
“When I have first-hand experience with our classes, exhibitions and performances I can better explain to people why it is important to support the Arts Center,” she said. “I just feel like I’m able to be the person I want to be. Learning as much as I can, pushing myself toward my goals and meeting people who become my friends.”
Cindy, who describes her work as getting to “introduce people to all that is amazing about the Arts Center,” said she has gained a deeper appreciation for the work of her performing arts colleagues.
“Elizabeth [Sullivan] and Samaria [Fleig] are both so good working with kids,” she said. “It has been fun just to watch them interact and teach kids of all ages and levels of experience. These are truly professional and special humans and we are so lucky to have them at the Arts Center and in our community.”
Alex said The Snow Queen was not her only Arts Center performance. She has also appeared in A Kansas Nutcracker, Cinderella, Thumbelina, Giselle and most recently in The Vagina Monologues. While she has danced her entire life, she said it isn’t always easy to find performance opportunities.
“I try to take every opportunity I can get,” she said. “I also love working with Paige Comparato, ballet choreographer of The Snow Queen. I started taking classes from Paige five years ago, and she turned me into a ballet freak!”
Cindy, on the other hand, hadn’t been in stage for a number of years, but decided to join the production, in part, to do something special with her children.
“I have a degree in theater and did several productions post-college, but then work, life, and children came along,” she said. “I haven’t really been on stage for about 18 years. The Snow Queen sounded like a fun way to dip my toes back into theater and to engage with the Arts Center on a more personal level.”
Alex said she has truly enjoyed the experience of being on stage with Cindy, but more than that she is proud to be part of such an amazing production.
“It is great to have Cindy to laugh with during rehearsal – she’s my bud,” Alex said. “The Lawrence Arts Center has so much to offer people in the community. That is pretty cool.”