Geyer theater manager moves on
The end of 2013 brought with it the end of Kristen Tunney's time as theater manager at the Geyer Performing Arts Center in Scottdale.
Tunney, 24, left the post she has held for over two years to concentrate on her dream of having a career with a professional theater company.
“There's a line from a show I was in a few years ago, ‘A Chorus Line,' that the character Sheila says about setting goals for herself. I really identified with that. I just felt like it was time for me to do the next thing. I had a goal of living and working in a city by the time I was 25, and I'm still hoping to achieve that,” Tunney said.
Tunney was hired by the Geyer as theater manager in April 2011. Since then, she has overseen the daily operations of the theater in addition to organizing marketing efforts, fundraising and grant writing, as well as overseeing production of about 11 shows a year.
She said while she wore many hats, her favorite part of this job has always been working with production.
“I love working with directors, technical designers, musicians, choreographers and every member of a production staff to put on a show. I've been blessed to work with some absolutely amazing board members, directors, and volunteers here. It's a truly passionate community, and everyone has taught me so much,” Tunney said.
Tunney was a fixture both on stage and behind the scenes of many productions at the theater — as an actress, production manager and director. Most recently, she played the role of Aldonza in “The Man of Lamancha.”
Over the past several years, the historic theater has witnessed an increase in attendance and has attracted a high level of local talent that has led to the theater producing shows that have continually increased in quality during that time.
“We are sad to see her leave. The theater has seen wonderful growth during her tenure with us. She was able to execute the board's direction as well as help the board better understand productions and that brought success,” said GPAC board President Brad Geyer.
Geyer said Tunney's leadership, marketing and organizational abilities have been a great asset to the theater.
“Her biggest strengths come from understanding the process of producing a show and using the theater's office to aid the production. With her organizational skills, the office was able to coordinate with directors from one production to the next, making the transitions from show to show better, helped market the theater as a whole, and worked to increase the technical abilities of the theater,” he said.
Tunney has overseen operational and physical improvements to the theater during her tenure, including a computerized ticketing system and updated sound system.
“We would not have the online ticket program and the new ticket system if not for Kristen. Although it was hard to transition to using the computer program, it has helped the office more efficiently process tickets. Kristen was also a big proponent of the new sound system,” Geyer said.
Tunney said she is proud of implementing the ticketing system and the grant writing she has done for the theater.
“We've made some huge progress in becoming a certified charitable and EITC-qualified organization, and completing those applications took a lot of paperwork and work with board members like Brad Geyer and Kat Post, but it will be so worth it for the theater in the long run,” she said.
Geyer said Tunney had a wonderful way of working with all the personalities involved with the Geyer and the theater's resident theater company Actors and Artists of Fayette County.
“Kristen has been an asset to the theater in so many ways that I can't even begin to list them — from her wonderful organizational skills to her ability to keep a cool head in the midst of chaos, Kristen has gone above and beyond for the theater and for AAFC time and time again. We wish her luck in her future endeavors; she will be greatly missed,” said AAFC board President Marilyn Forbes.
Geyer said the search for a new manger is under way, and several very talented people have applied. The board is reviewing and will likely make a selection early this month.
Tunney said she is spending time preparing for graduate school.
“I want to produce professional theater. I want to be part of the development process for new shows, plays, musicals, revivals. I'd love to work on something that is produced on Broadway at some point in my career. I understand that these are incredibly lofty goals, but the only way to find out what you're capable of is to challenge yourself, and I'm planning to do just that,” she said.
While she is still in the area, Tunney said she plans to work with the theater on shows.
“I can't imagine my life without theater, and this theater is very close to my heart,” she said. “I just want to thank everyone I've worked with while I was at Geyer. It truly takes the whole community to keep this theater alive and thriving. The arts are so important, and Scottdale is so lucky to have this little theater. Let's keep it alive for years to come.”
Linda Harkcom is a contributing writer.
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