MENOMONIE — If the Mabel Tainter board of directors was looking for a connection to the community and expertise in the arts for its director of operations, it’s easy to see why Lucas Chase was their choice.
Chase, Menomonie native and Menomonie High School graduate, started in the position on Aug. 17.
According to a news release from the Mabel:
Chase had been serving as programming chair for the Mabel and a Mabel Tainter board member since 2018.
He graduated from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, triple majoring in theater, business management and German. Before his start at the Mabel, Chase supervised the ticket office at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul. He also managed the Performance Center at St. Mary’s University in Winona, Minn., as well as serving as the box office manager for the Minnesota Beethoven Festival.
Chase performed frequently on the Mabel Tainter stage while growing up.
“The Mabel is truly one of the most majestic theaters in the country and I am grateful to have the chance to help the Mabel transition during this pandemic to find new ways to serve the community and plan for the day when we can do live performances again,” Chase says in the release.
“We are so grateful that Lucas has chosen to step up and serve during this extended intermission at the Mabel. With his experience, forward-thinking mentality, and knowledge of the community, Lucas is the perfect person to help the Mabel navigate these difficult times during this pandemic,” board President Andrew Mercil says in the release.
When he started in the director of operations role, Chase trained with outgoing executive director Jeff McSweeney, whose last day was Aug. 21.
For the immediate future, Chase said, the Mabel will go without an executive director. At some point, possibly in the spring, the board will consider hiring someone for the position or perhaps alter the theater’s staffing structure.
In programming for the Mabel, Chase said he will target primarily two types of performances: shows by nationally or internationally known artists; and prominent regional acts.
“That’s what people want to come to,” he said. “They want to support someone that they know from the community or from the region, and then of course they want to see people who are well-known … when they come to a concert they’ll know some of the songs.”
Examples of the former are concerts scheduled for May by, respectively, Judy Collins and Rodney Crowell. The latter includes the Menomonie Theater Guild, which performs its main-stage productions in the Mabel.
“They’re a huge component of the community theater and bringing that local talent into the building,” Chase said. “They also do extremely well with their shows in regard to quality and the number of people that come and see their productions.”