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SPOTLIGHT: Roger & Mari Anne Hussen

Photo by Sebastien Galina

South Surrey/White Rock is fortunate in attracting people who take an active role in local events.

South Surrey/White Rock is fortunate in attracting people who take an active role in local events. Our area abounds in artists and art lovers of every genre. Beach House Theatre succeeds because of the interest and volunteering of so many of these committed community members. We are grateful for the wide theatre knowledge and experience that many volunteers offer to each production. In this issue of the e-newsletter we wish to acknowledge the contributions of two such volunteers, Roger and Mari Anne Hussen.

Many volunteers decide to become involved with BHT because they have previously worked with the artistic directors, Candace Radcliffe and Rick Harmon. Roger Hussen, part of the company since 2012, became interested in BHT because he knew and respected the people in the company. “I had worked both onstage and behind the scenes with Rick Harmon and Carol Seitz during my association with the Fraser Valley Gilbert and Sullivan Society. Rick directed and Carol did choreography for many of those musicals. I also knew Candace from my time as a teacher in the Surrey School district. So, when Beach House Theatre put on its first production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2012, I was interested because of the talented people I already knew and I was also intrigued as I hadn’t done Shakespeare on stage before. I auditioned and was cast as Egeus. In 2014 I was also in A Comedy of Errors in the chorus and as the ‘egg man’”.

Besides acting, Roger also likes helping out with sets and set up. Both he and his wife, Mari Anne, have worked on BHT productions, as ushers, or on set up and take down. They have also worked on parking for the last two years, as Rogers says, “an interesting challenge in itself.” Over five years of volunteering, Roger has easily given more than two hundred hours of time to BHT. While he likes acting the best, he also enjoys the backstage jobs because he gets to meet so many interesting people. Parking has definitely been the most demanding, as it is like a puzzle to get all cars in a suitable spot.

The time he spends with BHT has been rewarding for Roger. He states,” I enjoy meeting new people, and seeing the young people, and some retired people, involved in theatre for perhaps the first time. It’s very exciting for them being involved in their first production ever. It’s great to see that, as it energizes me all over again.” He thinks BHT “does a really good job explaining the productions, especially on the nights when the public can pre-purchase tickets to listen to the director’s discussion about the show.” With his wide knowledge of all aspects of getting a production to that opening night performance, Roger Hussen is the epitome of the perfect volunteer who can lend a hand wherever it is needed, on stage or off. Many thanks, Roger.

Mari Anne
Like her husband, Roger, Mari Anne has been involved in local theatre for many years. She says that volunteering for BHT “seemed like such a great opportunity to be in on the ground floor.” As part of the Fraser Valley Gilbert and Sullivan Society productions, she had often worked with Rick, and had gotten to know Candace through Marriott. “Actually I have known Rick for many years as our parents were friends.” Even though Mari Anne enjoyed being a part of the chorus in FVHSS, she usually works back stage for BHT. Roger is quick to point out that “Mari Anne is a very creative person and likes to help out with sewing costumes, as well as painting, decorating and working on sets, etc.” She says, “I just do what I am told. But I have in past been tasked with… ‘Paint these, use your imagination and let’s see what happens.’ Or ‘there is greenery. I want it on stage; be creative.’ And then… to be told they ‘like’ what I have done.”

Mari Anne enjoys beginning her stint when the production is first setting up. “I love to show up and just keep moving until my body says, ‘go home and take a break’. It is so exciting to see the theatre grow out of a gravel parking lot. I have found those directing me backstage have been so affirmative and supportive, it really makes me want to come back.” What Mari Anne likes most is seeing the completed project. “I feel awe in being able to share in the creation. I also have to admit watching those on the tech side work is amazing. It has been really awesome to see how the set up/take down has been fine tuned over the years. When I get there, I am quite capable of seeing what needs to be done without being led by the hand.” She does admit, however, that the physical aspects of the job can be challenging. A real trouper, Mari Anne always rises to the challenges.

As well as her back stage contributions, Mari Anne has also worked front of house where chatting to people waiting to enter the theatre is a definite pleasure. The parking detail, though can be difficult. She says, “We worked out a system where we would encourage people arriving to wait at the entrance until a spot opened up and then send them down.” Mari Anne is always ready to contribute her knowledge and expertise to people new to the site. “I think a role for any one of us is a good work ethic. If you are there to work, you work. You are proactive rather than sitting around waiting for a job to be thrown your way.” With such a positive attitude and willingness to work hard, it’s no wonder that everyone values Mari Anne. Thank you, Mari Anne for all that you have done.