Volunteer Spotlight: Patrick Regner
For January’s Volunteer Spotlight, we sat down with MATILDA: THE MUSICAL assistant director and performer Patrick Regner about his history with Quincy Community Theatre, what he loves about the stage, and what he looks forward to this year.
How did you first get involved with QCT? What was your first show? Describe the experience.
I was first bitten by the theatre bug via an Intro class taught by Brandon Thomsen when he was acting Education Director. There was no going back—I became hooked. Shortly after, I auditioned for Into the Woods Jr. and, to my shock, was cast as the Baker! The experience changed my life. The nerves I felt waiting in that stage left cove as I heard the audience filling the house… I’ll never forget that feeling. The image of the onstage glow spilling past the dark curtains is forever stamped into my memory. If not for the support and encouragement from the cast and crew, I might have stayed in that darkness forever. I’m filled with gratitude from the entire experience.
What is your favorite memory working on a QCT production?
My favorite memories at QCT all involve working alongside performers and creatives that I admired or respected. You simply cannot replicate a Doris Malacarne, a Paul Denckla, or a Russ Goodell. They are one of a kind. It’s a thrill to watch actors like Drew Quintero, Sierra Schnack, and Jay Stalder shine onstage and in the rehearsal process. I was never far away from someone who could inspire me to do my best work. The memory that I enjoy retelling the most is when the incomparable Deb Brown as “Madame Thénardier” would turn to look at me (“Marius”) and I’d find myself biting my tongue every night to keep from breaking into laughter. That woman had the incredible gift of affecting every person in a room with her presence alone, so if she could bring down a house of 500, imagine getting full blast of it up onstage!
You’re both performing in Matilda and assistant directing. What’s the most challenging thing about pulling double duty on one show?
There’s a really healthy boundary that allows directors and actors to work well together. Directors trust their actors to come up with ideas and insight into their character’s motivations, choices, and actions. Actors trust their directors to guide all facets of the storytelling to be cohesive and well-functioning. The challenge for me is to resist having that give and take relationship with myself and become overbearing in the process. Fortunately, our director, Deb Currier, tells me exactly which hat to wear every rehearsal so that it’s clear what I’m there to do each night. The cast and creative team has also been abundantly gracious and respectful when I have to make the switch; sometimes within the same rehearsal!
Do you prefer performing on stage or working behind the scenes? Why?
The short answer: Yes! I’ll always love performing, but very few of us get to have it be all that we do. If I can’t be up onstage, then I want to be contributing to the thing I love most in any way I can. So many people rule themselves “in” or “out” based on if they consider themselves a performer or not. There’s SO many areas of expertise that make this art form happen that ANYONE can find a way to contribute. It’s been extremely enriching to be on both sides of the curtain. Whether I’m taking a bow to an uproarious audience or sweeping up the post-show glitter to an empty house; if I spent the day in a theater, it was a good day.
What are you looking forward to in the 2024 season?
Definitely more of the new generation of actors that I’m just beginning to know! I’ve been away for almost ten years and although there are still some familiar faces, most of the people I see onstage at QCT are completly fresh to me. I’m curious and excited to see how new ideas and voices are showcased in the art that’s bound to happen in this dynamic upcoming season. It’s humbling and heartwarming to see my old stomping ground continuing to go strong and evolve.
What would you say to encourage someone else to get involved at QCT?
If you want to be involved but are feeling trepidation or self-doubt regarding how valuable you’d be to the theatre-making process, then this is definitely the place for you! People are standing by ready to supportively invest in your training and experience. People like Brandon Thomsen, Cheryl Kaiser, Jillian Miller, Monica Scholz, and so many others are what makes our community have the remarkable turnout of theatre-makers that exist in and come out of Quincy. I guarantee that no matter what skills or affinities you possess, there’s a place for you!