August Staff Spotlight: Alison Shafer
If you volunteer with us or are thinking of volunteering, our new Volunteer Coordinator Alison will be there to answer all of your questions.
Tell us a little about yourself!
My name is Alison Shafer, and I’m the new Volunteer Coordinator/Box Office Associate at QCT. I was born in Fairfield, IA, and moved to Quincy five years ago from Des Moines, IA where we lived for 20 years and raised our two children, Emma and Ethan. I joined the QCT staff in July, but my first experience with QCT was attending Peter and the Starcatcher. A mutual colleague mentioned me to Brandon when he heard Allen and I were moving to Quincy, so I introduced myself to Brandon after that show.
What did you do before you joined the QCT staff?
After getting married, Allen and I moved to Seattle, WA, where I taught dance and performed with several choreographers and theatres. One highlight was traveling to London and Glasgow to perform as a member of the Pat Graney Dance Company. I also started freelancing as a Director/Choreographer while there and have been actively creating stories through theatre for the past 30+ years. I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with Brandon and the QCT volunteers on several productions including She Loves Me, Stuart Little, Elf the Musical, A Christmas Carol, Triple Threat Boot Camp 2021, Beauty and the Beast, and Mame.
What has been your favorite/most memorable show to work on?
I don’t know the exact count, but I have worked on over 120 shows, so it’s challenging to identify just one! Honk! holds a special place because it was the first show I directed and choreographed. Cats, Chicago, Hairspray, 42nd Street, and Thoroughly Modern Millie are a few of the dance-heavy shows that were really fun to work on. Probably one of the most memorable was Marathon Dancing. This was an original production first conceived and performed at the University of Iowa about the dance marathons of the 1930s. I was a part of the creative team that included Director Anne Bogart. The show was later reworked and remounted in New York with professional actors. Collaborating with Ann and having the opportunity to work in New York were amazing opportunities!
Favorite theatre memory?
One of the first professional shows I saw was A Chorus Line. I wore the grooves off of the album playing it non-stop in my bedroom during high school! Later I got to choreograph the show and play the role of Cassie. Dream complete!
What would be your dream show to work on?
My dream show to work on is any show I can collaborate on with my daughter Emma. She is an actor and director, and I would love to create with her, whatever the piece.
What part of QCT’s mission do you connect with the most?
(To offer and perpetuate quality theatre entertainment and education in the performing arts through community participation.)
I connect with all aspects of our mission statement in different ways.
Quality theatre entertainment – As an artist, I am always striving to create the best theatre I can while lifting up the volunteers and their performances in the process.
Education in the performing arts – I love to teach whether it’s formal dance classes like tap or musical theatre, choreography workshops, mentoring artists, or educating through the process of developing productions.
Community participation – I firmly believe that community theatre is an asset to the volunteers, the patrons, and the entire community. Uniting a diverse group of volunteers focused on a common goal resulting in entertaining, thought-provoking art is a passion I feel fortunate to participate in and bring to our community.
What are you most excited about for the rest of the year?
I am excited to continue my passion for community theatre through the lens of Volunteer Coordinator and as Choreographer for Little House on the Prairie the Musical.
Any unique or unexpected experiences while working on a show?
The most unique and thrilling experiences for me are the moments during the creative process when I find that perfect way of illuminating the story. This summer I choreographed Matilda for the Des Moines Playhouse. “The School Song” in Act 1 introduces the school to the new students through the eyes of the battle-tested big kids. In the original production, the cast used the turning of blocks to emphasize each letter of the alphabet while taunting the little kids. Wanting to find my own way of telling the story, my idea was to bully and “create” each letter using the bodies of the little kids. One big kid, for instance, formed the letter “C” by lifting a little kid, who was lying on his belly, by the feet and bending him backward. It was so gratifying to create, collaborate and problem solve all of the letters of the alphabet with the cast and find our unique way of telling the story.