5 Question Friday With Mark Thomason From Broadway Center For Performing Arts

Everyone has a passion. For those who are smart or lucky, they are able to turn that passion into a career. I’ve known Mark Thomason for years and his passion for theater is one of the constants in his life. He is now the Production Stage Manager at downtown Tacoma’s Broadway Center for the Performing Arts. Tomorrow begins a free event that the Broadway Center is putting on called the Fall Free For All. Mark was nice enough to take time out of his incredibly busy schedule to join us for 5 Question Friday. Here’s Mark: 

1.      What is Broadway Center for the Performing Arts?

Broadway Center for the Performing Arts is hard to define, actually. Ostensibly we’re a non-profit organization which presents live entertainment and manages the city-owned facilities including the Pantages, Rialto, and Theatre on the Square venues, plus three rehearsal halls as well as several interconnected spaces.

But much more than that, BCPA is a community-centered organization which partners with literally dozens of other non-profit organizations to support education, anti-poverty initiatives, economic development, and so much more. I could go into all the various initiatives and projects BCPA is involved in here in Tacoma and Pierce County, but it would take me all day to list them.

2.      How did you get started there?

I’ve spent my career in the performing arts industry, graduating with degrees in theatre production and communications/photography. I worked as a freelance stagehand when I first moved back to the area after college, and eventually took a full time job at the Admiral Theatre in Bremerton. I was there for ten years; during most of that time I lived in Tacoma and commuted. I continued to freelance as a lighting designer in the area, a capacity in which I met David Fischer, Executive Director for the Broadway Center, when I worked with him on My Name is Asher Lev last year. Last January, they came to me and asked me to join their staff as Production Stage Manager. I loved the Admiral, but BCPA is such an important part of Tacoma, and I was happy to be given the chance to be a part of an organization that is really making a difference in our town. Plus the five-minute commute doesn’t hurt!

3.      What can people interested in Broadway Center for the Performing Arts do if they want to get involved?

The simplest thing is to go to the website at www.broadwaycenter.org and volunteer. We have a large volunteer corps whose primary duties are acting as our ushers but they also help out in so many other ways. Of course, as a large performing arts center with a community service mandate, we absorb the costs of presenting shows by lowering ticket prices and giving away tickets to underprivileged groups, so there are numerous sponsorship opportunities for businesses and individuals interested in donating, either financially, or in-kind.

4.      What is the Free For All event this weekend?

Fall Free For All is probably the most publicly visible of our initiatives to promote and support downtown Tacoma. A completely free event open to the public and sponsored in part by the city, we’ll be closing down Broadway between 9th and 11th to put on a festival of arts and music encompassing the street and the entire theatre complex on Broadway. We’ll have 7 total stages on Saturday, with music, live arts installations, family-friendly performances, bouncy houses for the kids, even a live iron-casting art presentation. The fun begins at noon and lasts into the evening, with Vicci Martinez headlining on Saturday night at the Pantages. We continue the party on Sunday with a much smaller festival, with a mix of shows in Theatre on the Square and Studio 3, a live-cooking show in Studio 1, and a historical fashion show, a mix of Tacoma History and a men’s clothing fashion show in Studio 2.

Anyone interested in attending, visit the website and submit your email address to be registered to receive wristbands for you and your family for access to the whole weekend.

5. What’s coming up for Broadway Center for the Performing Arts?

At this point, I’m so focused on Fall Free For All, that’s everything I’m thinking about. That said, let’s look at my calendar… We’ve got ongoing classes for kids and adults both here and at various locations around town, we’ve got all our local arts partners gearing up for their season such as the Northwest Sinfonietta’s performance of Beethoven’s 9th in the beginning of October and Tacoma Opera’s Cosi Fan Tutte later on… we’re kicking off our own presenting season with Wayne Brady on the 11th at the Pantages, and we’re helping to mount the new broadway tour of A Chorus Line, opening on the 26th and 27thhere before they head out on tour all over the country. Did I mention the Korean Consulate’s bringing in Gong Myoung to the Rialto, and we’ve got our performance of the Voices Of the City, an outreach program representing many of the different communities and cultures living in Tacoma, where normal Tacoma citizens develop a way to present their own stories to share… We’ve got Video Games Live in early November, we’re showing an Alfred Hitchcock Film & Lecture series… so much coming up I’m getting exhausted just thinking about it.

For more information on the Free For All event beginning tomorrow, September 22nd, go to click here .  I’d like to thank Mark for joining me this week. As always, if you or someone you know is interested in participating in 5 Question Friday, email me at jackcameronis@gmail.com

– Jack Cameron

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