Ashleigh Prince spoke with David MacArthur Jr., the director of audience services at The Hanover Theatre, about how to become a volunteer, the perks of volunteering, historic & architectural tours and more! Read on for highlights from the interview, or listen to the full interview below. Tune in to Talk of the Commonwealth with Hank Stolz on WCRN 830AM Fridays at 9 AM and Saturdays at 1 PM for more behind-the-scenes interviews.
Ashleigh: Good morning, everyone. Welcome back to Behind the Scenes at The Hanover Theatre. Today, we’re meeting with another treasured member of our staff at The Hanover Theatre, David MacArthur. Hi, David.
David: Hi, how you doing?
Ashleigh: I’m doing well. Have you ever been on the show before?
David: I don’t think so.
Ashleigh: Okay! We just had Sarah Hallowell on for the first time a week or two ago, and now we have you! Welcome.
David: Thank you. I’m glad to be here.
Ashleigh: For the people that aren’t familiar with you, why don’t you introduce yourself a little bit?
David: My name is David MacArthur and I’m the director of audience services here at The Hanover Theatre. I’ve been here for a little over 10 years, and I handle everything in the front of house, the volunteers and security.
Ashleigh: I am always seeing your running back and forth in the theatre taking care of a thousand things, so you are holding it down in the in the lobby and in the theatre. We very much appreciate you.
David: It’s fun!
Ashleigh: I wanted to talk to you today about volunteering at The Hanover Theatre. We’re always talking about all the shows that are coming through, annual giving and donations, but I don’t think we cover volunteers as much as we should. I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about what you can do here as a volunteer and what kind of perks that we can look forward to as volunteers for The Hanover Theatre. Let’s talk about our options; what roles can people fall into here?
The volunteers are the heart and soul of The Hanover Theatre. They’re the first people that you see when you walk in the door.David MacArthur Jr.
David: We have all different volunteer positions. There are administrative volunteers that help with the day-to-day office work here and might have duties such as stuffing envelopes or other projects. We have garden and plaza maintenance volunteers that help with the plaza out front which is being reconstructed right now, so we’re excited to have them come back. The largest group is the ushers, the ticket takers and the greeters for the theatre. As soon as you walk in the door, you get to see all the different volunteers.
Ashleigh: When I used to come as a patron many, many years ago, I remember seeing the volunteers dressed up for different shows, wearing cute little bow ties and different outfits. It’s always been so nice, as soon as you’re walking in the door, to start off with that experience. That has always been so lovely.
David: They’re all great people that always roll with the punches. We do all kinds of different shows, so any time there’s a show that I can add a little extra fun to, we will dress them up and it makes for a good show.
Ashleigh: What has been your favorite or most memorable show for the volunteers to dress up for?
David: The most memorable outfit that we had the volunteers dress up for was probably for Waitress and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. For Waitress, we had these little aprons that were blue. Everyone wore them, even the guys, so it was really funny that all the volunteers wore the same thing. We also had Willy Wonka where the ticket-takers were dressed up like Mr. Wonka himself. They had the purple tailcoat and a gold top hat.
Ashleigh: That’s so cute. Willy Wonka was one of our last shows before the shutdown in 2020. What a treat to be greeted in those purple costumes before everything shut down! I love the energy that the volunteers bring to our lobby and our theatre. We have some people that work up in the administrative offices with us that really help us with tracking data and going through every time that we’ve been mentioned in newspapers, magazines and articles. There are a lot more options than I think what people would assume at first. It’s really helpful to kind of mention that when the plaza is finally finished, we’ll have gardeners here. I think that’s really fantastic.
David: I keep saying it, but the volunteers are the heart and soul of the theatre and they will do anything. They’re from all different walks of life; teachers, doctors, people that are retired and people that are still in school. There is large array of different people. There are all kinds of things that we can do and ways that they can help. We’re always looking for volunteers!
Ashleigh: Every volunteer that I’ve met so far is so passionate about the arts and so excited to be here. It’s always a pleasure interacting with them. I was wondering if you could go over one of our perks that we’ve recently revived, our historic and architectural tour?
David: The historic tours are great thing the volunteers do.
We have volunteer docent tour guides that lead you through the historic tour of the theatre where you learn the history and the behind-the-scenes of the whole theatre. You go from the front of the theatre, on the stage, underneath the stage and you get to see the whole building.David MacArthur Jr.
Ashleigh: Yeah! Anyone on our team that was a new employee of the theatre got to go on one of those tours just for us and it was so nice. I’ve been here for a year now and they took us in areas that I hadn’t even seen yet, like below the stage. It’s so cool to hear the history of the theatre. We just had the Worcester Tercentennial, 300 years of Worcester, and before The Hanover Theatre and Conservatory was The Hanover Theatre and Conservatory, it was Poli’s Palace and a Showcase Cinema. They walk through all of that with a tour with pictures of what it looked like before and they are very, very thorough. I would highly recommend attending any of those tours.
David: Yeah, they’re really enthusiastic about it. They love giving the tours and it’s an awesome thing that we have here.
Ashleigh: If anyone listening is interested in becoming a volunteer in any of the roles that we’ve talked about, how would they start that process?
David: There are multiple different ways to become a volunteer. The best way is to just go online to our website where there’s a volunteer section under “support us.” In there is an application that you can download and fill out, which can be sent in an email to David MacArthur at [email protected] or to [email protected]. Applications can also be dropped off at our box office. Feel free to email us with any questions!
Ashleigh: If you’re listening or reading our blog and you’re interested, you can reach out to us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and I would be happy to point you in the right direction. Do you take applications on a rolling basis or is it in terms?
David: We take the applications all year round, and in July and August, we have our annual trainings. We’ll contact you and let you know when our trainings are, you have an interview, do the training and then we start on our way.
Ashleigh: Many volunteers are ushers and ticket-takers. What does an average show look like for them?
David: A typical day is really fun and exciting. You come in about an hour and a half before the show. The volunteers have their own area that they go to where their uniforms are located. You will see on the sign-in sheet what location you’re working at in the theater, whether you’re going to be a ticket-taker, a greeter or an aisle usher and all the different positions. You’ll get your nametag and change into your uniform, then we have a little pre-show meeting right before the show starts. Then, we open the doors and it’s showtime.
Ashleigh: Yeah, very cool! Are the volunteers there for the whole show, or just parts of the show? What is that like?
David: Yeah, they are here for the whole show. It’s typically it depends on the show runtime. For instance, a kid’s show may be a little shorter, but if it’s a regular Broadway show, we usually average about four hours as a shift. If it’s Sesame Street or Trolls Live!, it’s usually about 90 minutes to two hours.
Ashleigh: On multi-show runs, are they there for every single show or just a select number of them?
David: That’s the exciting part, because you can kind of make your own schedule. We have software that we use, and you’ll learn about that when you do the training. It gets posted every month and you can sign up for the shows that you want to work. If you want to work a double, you can work a double. If you don’t, you don’t have to.
Ashleigh: Perfect. What are some of the perks of being a volunteer at The Hanover Theatre? I know there are so many.
David: There are a lot of perks for the volunteers. We have internal giveaways that I do sometimes where I can give away gift cards to certain things if they work certain shows. We have the free show of the month, so usually there’s one show a month that all the volunteers can come for free. We have buy one, get one free shows also. Every time they work four shows, they get a little voucher that’s for BOGO for select performances. We also have an annual kickoff dinner luncheon after our training and the annual volunteer recognition night, which is what we’re working on this week.
Ashleigh: That has been super exciting. I know that you’ve been doing so much to prepare for that event, so tell us a little bit about that.
David: The volunteer recognition night is the biggest event that we do for the volunteers every year. It’s the most fun and it’s the best thing that I like to do every year. We have all the volunteers that we have in our system get invited to this volunteer recognition. They have dinner on stage and we have it catered by Struck Catering. We have prizes and donations that I gather from different organizations that we raffle off. Everyone goes home with a raffle item at the end of the day. Everyone gets a gift and a swag bag of some sort. It’s a big night that’s on stage. We also have a little entertainment factor of it, and sometimes we have a music videos that we record the volunteers so they become the star of the show. We show it on a giant screen on the back of the theatre, so it’s pretty cool.
Ashleigh: That’s awesome. I haven’t seen one of these music videos before, so I look forward to seeing it this time. I know that we’ve gotten some praise on our social media for our volunteers. Recently, we got a Google review that was thanking our volunteers as a whole for the kindness and care that they provided to this woman and her child that were getting a little overwhelmed at one of the shows. The volunteers made it feel very safe, welcoming and nice for them and it made a huge difference for this person and for you everyone that comes through our doors. Thank you so much, volunteers. I know we’re doing the recognition night, but it doesn’t hurt to say thank you about a thousand more times.
Volunteers really do make a huge, huge difference. They are why The Hanover Theatre is so special to me. You don’t get that experience at every theatre that you attend. It really is different here.Ashleigh Prince
David: They always go above and beyond. I just love every one of them.
Ashleigh: I want to talk a little bit about you before we wrap up for the day. You’ve been here for over 10 years, Oh, my goodness. You’ve been here through a lot of transitions and a lot of growth at The Hanover Theatre. I’m wondering, what do you think the favorite show of the volunteers has been? What has been your favorite show to work in all those 10 years?
David: I get asked this question a lot. My favorite show of all time was probably when Boyz II Men was here. I was just so excited that they were here and they put on a good show. It was really fun to see them.
Ashleigh: I wish I was there, I love Boyz II Men. Do they want to come back?
David: Hey, we’ll take them if they will.
Ashleigh: Well, thank you so much for joining me today, David. I hope to have you on the show again sometime soon!
David: Thank you!