Champion For Change
By Mark Sconce
Peter Luciano, President, Lakeside Little Theatre
Half way into his second two-year term, the President of the Lakeside Little Theatre takes time from his formidable schedule to sit down with the Ojo and reflect on his tenure, the current state of affairs and his plans for the future of Lakeside’s 52- year old theatre.
On first meeting President Peter Luciano, you could be forgiven for thinking he looks like and exudes the air of Luciano Pavarotti and probably knows O Sole Mio by heart. After an extensive interview, we discover an articulate, forceful leader who is proud to be the two-term president of the oldest English speaking theatre “South of the border.” We also learn that President Peter knew virtually nothing about the theatre and theatre life prior to his 2014 election but a great deal about organizational management.
The theatre’s board in 2013-14 was contentious and divided to the point of virtual stalemate. The theatre’s future hung in the balance with less than a million pesos in the bank. Into the breach stepped then LLT historian, Peter Luciano, with a bold challenge: “I may not know much about theatre, but I know business, and the theatre ought to be run like one. That’s why I’m running for president.”
Past positions included Vice President, Senior Vice President, and Chief Executive Officer of various hospitals and an executive recruiting company. He and like-minded colleagues founded the Omni Group in 1984, a management consulting service in Beverly, Massachusetts. And all of this wrapped up in a doctoral sheepskin in psychology from the University of Northern Colorado.
Leadership guru, John Maxwell, points out that “People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.” The LLT Board bought into the leader almost unanimously. Let’s review the accomplishments of the Luciano presidency and his board.
New revenue streams. A partnership with London’s Royal National Theatre Live allowing Lakeside audiences, via satellite, to view the likes of Amadeus, Obsession with Jude Law, and Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Only 250 pesos a ticket.
For those who have difficulty understanding British accents, attend instead Broadway HD screenings that give us, for example, Romeo and Juliet–a revival, Oklahoma, Gypsy. Only 250 pesos a ticket. In all, nine combined screenings this season on top of the six main stage offerings.
These additional revenues paid for repairs, replacements and renovations long overdue. Just take a moment to admire the elegant new lobby and bar, the re-tiled, re-styled entrance, the beautiful new landscaping, and the spruced up Angel Terrace.
New speakers and acoustical improvements, a digitized sound board, new theatrical lighting, a rotating stage (thanks to Dave Hutchinson), solar electricity and more.
Major renovations (capital improvements) to both stage and seating will transform the theatre-going experience. Stay tuned…
Created two new Board positions, Playhouse Manager and Director of Development.
Recommended to the Board that Lakeside Little Theatre welcome to their stage the bi-lingual high school players from the Drama Department of the American School Foundation in Guadalajara. Board-approved, the talented students, Mexican and American, performed twice the play Lincoln and Mexico based on Dr. Michael Hogan’s wildly successful book, Abraham Lincoln and Mexico. President Peter Luciano announced that the two performances represented a major move for the 52 year-old theatre, a move to create a long-term relationship with the American School Foundation of Guadalajara, one of the top 15 high schools in the world. He praised the kids, the school’s drama department and declared that all the proceeds from the two performances would be given the school’s drama department. Cheers rang out loud and clear.
Applied for a 501 C 3 tax-exempt status available to non-profit organizations whose earnings don’t inure to any private individual. Thus potential donors in the States can write off their donations.
A generous percentage of the proceeds from each main stage play goes to various Lakeside charities, most recently Tepehua Centro Comunitario, Operation Amor, and Villa Infantil Guadalupe y San José.
Since sourcing and recruiting new talent and volunteers is a leader’s job, President Peter has hit on an ingenious idea and plan. He is contacting all organizations in the States and Canada that assist retirees from the entertainment industry. He is painting a near-irresistible picture of retirement in beautiful Lakeside where actors can continue performing in our 52 year-old theatre. One professional actor has already said yes. You’ll see him on stage soon enough!
Also, meanwhile, Peter has found time to take acting classes so he could appear, for example, with his actress wife Candace face to face in last year’s smash hit drama Other Desert Cities not to mention a starring role in the even bigger smash hit Chicago. “Acting became a hobby,” he acknowledges. (Speaking of his lovely and talented wife, Candace, hurry, you can still buy tickets to her one-woman performance, Marilyn aka M.M.xx).
We’ve introduced Candace; now let’s introduce the Board to whom Peter gives maximum credit. Past President—Georgette Richmond/First Vice President Collette Clavadetscher/2nd Vice President—Mary Hunt/Treasurer— Alfred Kirkland, Jr./Secretary—Diana Rowland/Playhouse Manager—Carolyn Cothran/Dir. of Development—Dennis McCary/Tech/PR—Garry Peerless/Production Manager—Beth Leitch/Facilities Manager—Norm Whelpdale Honorable Mention/Dave McIntosh
Back in Shakespeare’s day, Stratford-on-Avon’s population was a good deal less than Lakeside’s today. Yet look what happened to the Globe!