QCT SPOTLIGHT: Katie Kraushaar
Sometimes we’re in awe of just how much our volunteers do for Quincy Community Theatre. Let it be no secret: we’re always in awe of Katie Kraushaar.
Acting, ticket sales, dramaturgy—Katie can do practically anything. We caught up with this Katie-of-all-trades for our January Spotlight…
Q: Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
A: Katie Kraushaar, Manager of Information Services at Quincy Public Library. I grew up near Warsaw, Illinois, and was encouraged to sing and participate in Sunday School programs from a very young age (3 years old, if I remember correctly). During high school and college, I participated in school musicals, chorus, madrigals, and other theatre-related events. I also sing with the Quincy Symphony Chorus, and have volunteered for Muddy River Opera.
Q: When did you first become involved with QCT?
A: My very first experience with QCT was in 1997 when I auditioned for FIDDLER ON THE ROOF. I was incredibly nervous because everyone else who was there seemed to know each other already! Barbara Rowell called me a few days later to ask if I would mind acting as one of the younger sisters — I accepted, and have been gifted with a perpetually-shifting family of performers, crew, directors, and volunteers ever since.
Q: How has your involvement here evolved over the years?
A: Through every possible iteration. For the first five years or so, I could only be involved with summer musicals because of school and work. Eventually, I was talked into crew tasks (Thank you, Paul!) and front of house, as well as committee work and helping at special events. The biggest adjustment was serving on the QCT Board of Directors, which taught me that I am better at physical labor than understanding Profit & Loss statements! Now, I serve where there is a need: Box Office, scanning, ushering, props gathering and setting during performance runs, the Big Clean — really, anywhere…except set painting, lights, and sound. Fortunately, teachers and mentors were available every time I approached something new at QCT.
I am also the humble recipient of two Ghost Light awards; these are incredibly meaningful because cast and crew members from each show are encouraged to submit nominations for this award.
Q: You’ve found many interesting ways to mix your profession with your work at the theatre. Can you talk a bit about what it’s like serving as our general source of information/dramaturg extraordinaire?
A: It is a gift to be able to blend my passions for knowledge and theatre. I very sneakily like being aware of QCT productions so I can convince (coerce, force, strong-arm) the Library to partner with QCT and vice versa. Partnering and sharing resources are examples of community building at its finest. As a general source of information/dramaturg, I love the hunt for obscure information that make the productions as complete as possible. In LES MISÉRABLES, it was making sure the maps and papers were in French, or that the letters were hand-written and sealed with wax, or presenting the Student uprising in context with Napoleon, Waterloo, and the French Republic so the cast could use those tidbits for their character profiles and acting choices. Librarians train for these moments!
Q: What has been your favorite show and/or volunteer project?
A: Favorite recent volunteer projects are the Big Clean days — organizing props, furniture, set pieces, clothes, hats, and shoes, and curating the collection of materials which create the worlds that amaze QCT audiences. I enjoy digging through the history of past shows, and remembering “that dress” or laughing over a destroyed prop passes QCT lore to the next generation of volunteers.
Some shows will always mean more than others– here are a few:
- FIDDLER ON THE ROOF and WEST SIDE STORY because they were the first shows I was cast in.
- FUNNY GIRL — the first show I worked on with Brandon.
- MOON OVER BUFFALO because Gregg Boyer and Doris Malacarne were my parents and Joyce VanDoorn was my grandmother! This was the first non-musical I auditioned for, too.
- LES MISÉRABLES as the most ambitious show, with a production team that manifested the dream for all of us.
- ALMOST, MAINE and OUR TOWN because the scripts are honest and vulnerable; as a performer, it was imperative to give importance to each word and let the audience understand the intention as well as the meaning.
Q: Currently you’re working in props for ANNE OF GREEN GABLES. What do you hope your professional background brings to what we’ll see onstage?
A: I hope my familiarity with Anne’s story — at Green Gables and through the entire book series — will help create a believable world of Avonlea for the characters and the audiences.
Q: Why are props important to the storytelling?
A: Trick question! As long as props are not a distraction to the performer or the audience, those pieces are selected, gathered, and brought on-stage to add authenticity to the story being told. If a prop moves the story forward for the actor with a handkerchief in his or her pocket and for the audience members who observe it, then it is useful and has a purpose on the stage.
Q: What has been your favorite prop to create or find so far?
A: Definitely the blood and guts for the SWEENEY TODD meat grinder! I had the BEST time buying, mixing, and concocting goop that would feed through that amazing grinder. Hobby Lobby will never know what was inspired by their products.
Q: You’ve also been a Season Ticket holder for a long time. What inspires you to work on shows and purchase season tickets?
A: I purchase Season Tickets because the shared experience of live theatre reminds me that there is more to life than work and duty. QCT productions are an escape from daily life — and there are lessons to be learned from every show. Shows like MAMA WON’T FLY and THE DIXIE SWIM CLUB are comedies, but there are messages of love, family, and friendship, as well as coping skills and absolute need for clear communication skills, embedded in the humor.
Q: What do you think Quincy gains from having a community theatre?
A: Community theatre (and the arts community) provides Quincy with alternatives to technology-based and athletic entertainment, as well as pride in well-performed, directed, and designed shows. Theatre can be enjoyed by audience members of any age, and all ages can participate as volunteers with as little as one hour at a time. Theatre is proof that our community members are multi-faceted and have hidden talents (looking at you, Black Stache!).
Local theatre efforts are vital to strong, diverse, and growing communities. Theatre fosters willingness to learn new skills. Theatre provides opportunities to listen respectfully to more than one side of a story. Theatre demonstrates what can be accomplished by people who come together with a common goal. Every show is a completed project: planned and created out of thin air, gifted to those willing to see and hear it.
Q: How do you hope to continue your QCT story?
A: I will continue to volunteer in any capacity I have time for, which is sometimes very scarce. But it is a thrill and a comfort to know that I am welcome and appreciated for my efforts every time I knock on the door.