Volunteers are a very important resource to many non-profit organizations, donating their time, energy, and hard work to help an organization to meet its mission, goals, and objectives. Here at CAPA, we are beyond fortunate to have a dedicated core of volunteers that help make us possible. For Valentine’s Day, we would like to shine the spotlight on volunteers Eric and Rachel Johnson, who not only fell in love with CAPA but each other as well!
Could you tell us the most recent show you volunteered for?
We worked both the Saturday matinee and evening performances of The Sound of Music.
[Eric] The female lead had a very good voice and I very much enjoyed the songs.
[Rachel] I really like the energy at the Broadway shows. They tend to be busy, and people are pretty excited to be there.
How long have you each been volunteering with CAPA and what got you to start?
[Eric] I began ushering in June 2008. I had already been volunteering at Picnic with the Pops and a co-worker encouraged me to try ushering as well.
[Rachel] I started in January 2010, so six years. I was in my second year of full-time graduate school at OSU (Atmospheric Sciences MS/PhD), and doing weather research all the time was hard for me. I wanted something to do in the evenings and on weekends. My aunt and uncle, who are heavily involved with the arts in Seattle, suggested I look for Columbus volunteer opportunities in the arts. That’s how I found CAPA.
Can you describe some of the things you do for us?
[Eric] You will more often than not find me at the front doors taking tickets, and when I am not doing that, I am usually the lead usher (captain) of the left or right balcony. Sometimes, you will find me taking patrons to their seats as a regular usher.
[Rachel] I help patrons get where they need to go in the theatre (their seats, restroom, box office, etc.). I also like to share theatre history and other shows that I’ve enjoyed.
I understand that you met through CAPA. Can you remember a moment in particular that brought you two together?
We lived and worked near each other for years, but only met through our volunteer work with CAPA. So, CAPA is very special to us.
[Eric] March 10, 2012, at the Capitol Theatre, we were both ticket takers at the second performance of Miracles and Magic performance. Rachel’s scanner malfunctioned, and after the show started, we sat out in the lobby and scanned the tickets that Rachel had to tear by hand. We talked while scanning, and ended up deciding to get dinner together.
[Rachel] It started moving quickly after that day—a CSO concert two weeks later was our first real date. We realized we had a lot in common in addition to CAPA. We’re both scientists who love the arts.
Do you guys have a favorite show or performance you’ve seen while with us?
[Eric] There have been so many great shows. The Lion King and The Phantom of the Opera were great. I would have to say my favorite show that I have worked was a Japanese Taiko (drum) group.
[Rachel] Well, this one we actually attended as patrons, but Twisted (CSO/BalletMet/Opera Columbus collaboration) was fabulous. Honestly, every six months I have a new favorite show. One of the great things about Columbus is that we get amazing touring shows through here, but we also have stellar local organizations like the CSO, BalletMet, ProMusica, Columbus Children’s Theatre, and Opera Columbus. There are so many great performances being created right here in Columbus.
Aside from finding your soulmate, what are some benefits from working with CAPA?
[Eric] It is an enjoyable volunteering experience and you get to work many great shows.
[Rachel] The people and the shows. I’ve made many friends through CAPA, and seen shows I would not have attended otherwise. I love helping patrons navigate the theatres, especially the ones who are new to the venue or haven’t been there in years.
What would you tell others to encourage them to volunteer with CAPA as well?
[Eric] You get exposed to so many great performances.
[Rachel] You’re working with great people at great shows, and you can really make a difference in the patron experience. I am so happy to use my time and energy to help people have a good experience at the CAPA theatres. And the shows are wonderful. I worked The Phantom of the Opera seven times when it was here in 2014.
What show are you volunteering at next and what are you looking forward to about it?
Our next show is BalletMet’s Carmen.maquia.
[Eric] I have found that I quite enjoy BalletMet’s performances. I was not interested in ballet until my exposure through CAPA. Now I try to work all their performances, and will buy tickets to see the ones that I am really interested in. Alice in Wonderland was a great performance.
[Rachel] The artistry and athleticism of BalletMet is amazing, whether it’s a traditional ballet or a new work.
Lastly, would you recommend CAPA as a good match-maker?
[Eric] For someone who finds the arts to be an important part of their life, it’s a good way to meet other like-minded individuals.
[Rachel] As Eric says, if you like the performing arts and interacting with people, then you’ll meet similar people with CAPA!
If you would like to join CAPA’s volunteer team and create some great memories of your own, contact Janet Rife at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interview by Brian Doney.