A! Magazine for the Arts

Samantha Gray is Theatre Bristol's volunteer artistic director.

Samantha Gray is Theatre Bristol's volunteer artistic director.

Samantha Gray is volunteer extraordinaire

October 26, 2017

Samantha Gray came to Theatre Bristol through her family and was then asked by Dr. Fred Slaughter to write a book, "Directing Confidence - Cathy DeCaterina's Theatre Bristol," about Catherine DeCaterina.

"I got involved when my daughter was 5 and cast in "Scrooge the Musical.' I have wrangled shows over the years and helped in any way I could. I wrote a book in 2009 about the first 35 years of the theater and was volunteering my time. Shortly after that I was asked to join the board and then began producing shows starting with "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.'

"Once I made lots of mistakes and learned so much, I needed to do it again. I have now produced more than 20 shows, including "Les Miserables,' a collaboration with River's Way, and our Youth Service Board shows, with the help of a great Board of Directors: Steve Baskett, Suzanne Eleas, Laura O'Bryan, Dottie Havlik, Mary Beth Rainero, Vince Turner, Kristin Hale and Cindi Brooks," Gray says.

Laura O'Bryan says of Gray, "As Samantha interviewed Cathy and grew to love her, she realized Cathy's concern about the direction Theatre Bristol was taking. Samantha got involved with the Theatre Bristol Board. With her help, the debt was erased, and the direction Cathy had wanted Theatre Bristol to take was restored. Again, Theatre Bristol is presenting the type program that was originally presented while Cathy was in charge. The actors are back. The attendees are back. The future is bright. It is all because of Samantha's many hours of work. She received no money for what she did, it was all done because of her love for Cathy and her challenge to help the Bristol community have a chance to be involved in the arts/drama."

Some of Gray's responsibilities are marketing, fund raising, development, choosing productions, and financial management.

She isn't the only volunteer. All of Theatre Bristol's personnel are volunteers.

The logistics of keeping an organization like this on track would appear to be daunting. But Gray says, "We have regular production meetings (even more work for people volunteering their time so generously), and we use online software to keep our schedules and information organized."

The theater welcomes new volunteers for shows or day-to-day operations.

"There is a lot to do. We welcome skilled and unskilled people, as we benefit and we can teach. We have a form they can fill out online to share their abilities and interests.

"Theater, live performance, is so important to our community we must never take it for granted. In an age of so many entertainment alternatives a shared story transcends and brings people together. It fosters confidence in our talents and abilities and gives a chance to do hard work and recognize that hard work. Theatre Bristol is a gem in our community, and we need to support it as much as we can.

"Contributions help underwrite our camps, our affordable ticket prices to all and our school shows, so donations mean so much to keeping live theater a part of our downtown," Gray says.

To volunteer, visit www.theatrebristol.org.

Theatre Bristol to Reveal 2018 Season at New York City-Themed Fete