The Curtain goes up on Season 26 at the Commonweal in 6 weeks. As you’ve come to expect, there are 5 fantastic productions on the slate for 2014. With this new season, comes two new faces to the Commonweal team and we could not be more excited to welcome them. You’ll be seeing so much more of them over the course of the year and we are certain that you will appreciate them as much as we do. This week’s introduction is…………
Ryan Lee: Box Office Manager
Last year was an incredible year. I released a new album, toured around the Midwest playing shows, launched the charity-based house concert idea that had been on my mind for quite a while, and spent time in Honduras teaching music to kids. After 14 years of, recording, promoting, and performing, 2013 was probably the “best” year I’ve had as an independent musician.
But halfway through the year, I began to realize that being a solo singer/songwriter/musician in the full-time “push-push-push” capacity that I’ve been so committed to just wasn’t working for me anymore. I do love writing songs, recording, singing and playing live. But, the main thing that hit me was that I was lonely. I missed the daily social aspect of working on a team, having people with whom I can connect, share ideas and stories, and check in with on a regular basis. I am such a people person, yet found myself alone most of the time. My favorite part of any gig has always been taking that set break and going out into the audience to meet, chat and make friends with the people.
I also missed the theatre. I went to school for acting, and did some theatre post-college for a bit, until I caught the songwriting bug and decided to focus on music. But last year, I watched my husband Tod (who is an actor) have a very busy, socially rewarding time in the theatre, while I longed for company in my little singer/songwriter bubble.
Enter Lanesboro, where I now reside…and The Commonweal Theatre. Tod directed a show down here several years ago, and has since maintained a friendship with the core artists that “keep the wheels spinning”. He says he’s held a “strong flirtation” with The Commonweal ever since he left, hoping to work here again in some capacity. Last summer, we came down here to visit, enjoy the bike trail, and see a couple of shows at the theatre. I met everyone pulling the strings of the company, and instantly fell in love with this little town. We walked the trail and were reminded again that ever since we left the North Woods of WI, we have been trying to get back…Out of the chaos of the city and back to nature, simplicity and quiet. A couple months later, I auditioned to be a part of The Commonweal’s 2014 season, and lucky for me, they offered me 2 roles, as well as the position of Box Office Manager! Tod is doing a show in Mpls, but will join me down here in 6 weeks. He will be directing a show for The Commonweal this season, and will be involved in other capacities as they unfold.
So I’ve been here for a little while now, learning my new job and getting into the swing of things. I am so grateful and thrilled to be here.