Camelot Theatre’s Artistic Director, Shawn Ramagos, a former Disney lighting and special effects technician, brings considerable stagecraft expertise to Camelot productions. Executive Director, Dann Hauser, came to Camelot with an extensive marketing background. We met in the theater’s board room to discuss their plans for an eclectic 2020 season.
SR: With this season, I wanted to reach all of the demographics that we have, young and old. I think there’s a little bit of something for everybody.
EH: How does the Camelot experience differ from other Rogue Valley theaters?
SR: We focus on large-scale musicals and musical spotlights.
EH: How has Camelot changed in the past two years?
DH: [Ramagos] has brought a whole new stagecraft to the quality of our shows. Before, our sets used just a small portion of the stage. Shawn goes from edge to edge and beyond that, taking in the whole proscenium, better lighting, better sound.
SR: When we talk quality, we don’t just talk about great acting and great singing. We also look at the technology and the scenery. I created our “Behind the Curtain” series. It’s a YouTube channel that we have. It shows how we do what we do on stage.
EH: What attracts you to the theater profession?
SR: It’s where a creative person can really thrive, not just in the creation of things on stage, but even in the business. To make money in a nonprofit, you have to be an outside-of-the-box type of thinker, especially since only about 64% of our income is covered by ticket sales. There’s a huge gap that you have to fill.
EH: Tell me about your Conservatory Program.
DH: One of the nice things about [Ramagos’] program is that it covers the technical aspects of lighting and behind-the-scenes, so if kids want to go into that aspect of theater, they can pick up a skill.
SR: We are really growing our Conservatory Program for our youth. We’re cultivating and educating our next group of young actors. In the summer Conservatory Program, kids work for six weeks. It’s an all-day program. In the mornings, we focus on the disciplines of performing arts. In the afternoons, they rehearse the show.
DH: We’ve been very fortunate to work with the Maslow Project, The Boys and Girls Club, and Kids Unlimited to bring some of the at-risk kids into our Conservatory Program. This gives them a boost. They can work off some emotions. Even if they don’t go into acting, just the ability to perform on-stage in front of an audience, gives them self-confidence.
SR: In general, a lot of schools are starting to cut arts funding. These programs are needed, especially for creative people. Some of them might be artists, and they already know how to draw. A lot of kids might be creative, but don’t know where to put their creativity.
Unless you’re given the opportunity to perform on stage, you don’t know if you can do it or not, or if you have the guts to do it. It’s a nerve-racking thing to go on stage, and you have 100 people staring at you, and you have to do a good job. Theater allows you to be someone else; it allows you to be in someone else’s shoes, as a character. You’re not judged for who you are. I’ve seen people come out of their shells like you wouldn’t believe.