As the Kentucky Center celebrates its 30th anniversary season, Center staff have been discussing how they entered this business and when they felt their first "arts crush." Noelle Shotwell, Technical Director for the Bomhard Theater, provided this account.
I grew up as a preacher’s daughter. Music in church was my first arts experience. My mom, sister and I all sang. So my love of choir was second nature. I also started piano lessons around seven years old.
In the summer, we would visit mom’s parents near St. Louis. I can remember two summers where the whole family would go to the zoo, the botanical gardens, and the Jewel Box, then top the evening off with opera at the Muny Amphitheatre. In the mid-to-late 1970s, I can remember sleeping through most of Cabaret (after the song "Mein Herr") on my mom’s lap. The next year we saw Big River. I was spellbound by the revolving stage and how Huck and Jim’s raft moved around the river. I was awake the whole show. The technical aspect of how these stories came to life onstage was fascinating to me.
In elementary and middle school, I remember Blue Apple Players' performances. In fifth grade, I made my acting debut as "Woodstock" in She’s a Good Skate, Charlie Brown. I continued to sing in choir from fifth grade up until college. I participated in numerous school plays, and starting helping out with lighting when I was about 15. I was "second woman" in A Christmas Carol. For that show, I worked in the front and back of the house, running the light console in costume. When my scene came up, I would tip toe across the cat walk above the audience, then run down two flights of spiral steps to make my stage entrance, then hightail it back to the booth!
1986 was when I fell in love with lighting. Mom bought us tickets to see Cats at the Kentucky Center. It was such a simple trick. There was a sound cue of a car revving the engine, then two lights from the stage left boom panned over the audience as if they were car headlights. I was amazed.
College was the turning point for me in deciding between a career in music education or in theatre. I started out as a double major, but four semesters of music theory helped me decide that I really like theatre best.
Even after so many years of working in the theatre, I still get "tingles" each time the house lights dim and a show is about to start.