Although new in her full-time capacity as Civic’s Lighting Director & Production Manager, Catie Dreher is no stranger to Civic Theatre. Her father, Paul, was the managing director for 39 years making this her home. Dreher has fond memories of growing up in the theatre; she recalls playing throughout the building with her brother while her father was working. At age 12, she was already hanging and focusing lights for her dad. Soaking up all that Civic Theatre had to offer from a young age left a lasting impact on her. She quickly fell in love with lighting design and the world of theatre arts. Her first job was at 18 working for Madame Babe’s Dinner Theatre in Battle Creek.
“I joked with my dad that I never had the chance to do anything else!” said Dreher. “I was raised in such a joyful place where there was such a creative atmosphere.” You can feel the influence of that joyful place when you chat with Catie. She exudes joy, creativity, and passion for the community that helped shape her.
Dreher has hardly missed a season with Civic. “The physics of light is tricky…light will go where it wants to go. It’s difficult when the director wants one thing to be lit and another thing to be hidden!” said Dreher. “Some actors and directors think that lighting ‘just happens’ and it just materializes, but it takes a lot of planning.”
However, Dreher loves the challenge of always looking for the next creative solution. “There’s magic in every show. The challenges are always changing, the creation is always changing,” she said. “My creative approach is always from a place of emotion, but I’m also a very list-oriented person, so it’s a balance of right and left brain.”Until I see a full run-through of a show, though, my ideas don’t matter, because it always ends up being different than what I’ve imagined.
You might say that for the Drehers, working at Civic Theatre is a family matter. The theatre’s auditorium is named after Paul, and Catie’s mother is a lifelong volunteer in the costume shop. When asked about her family’s legacy, Dreher thought for a moment, “Legacy is such a scary word. There’s a lot of weight behind it. I learned from my dad, so whenever I’m designing a show I find myself thinking about how my dad might approach a problem or situation. When I think about a lifetime at Civic, I think of laughter and camaraderie.”
Dreher shared that part of that legacy is continuing to support the theatre in any way that she can. When asked about why others should offer their support as well she said, “What their support provides is unmatched, both in education and entertainment. People would be surprised to know how little of our budget comes from tickets, so that support is essential. We are part of the heart of the city and West Michigan-we’re known country-wide for what we do.”
See Catie’s work in action with Akeelah and the Bee opening April 20th!