ASTRA would like to recognize and honor Johnny Bass as an A-STAR Award recipient. You will rarely see the star of our sound department; you will likely never see him take a bow. Yet, from the moment you enter our venue, Johnny is hard at work. The background music during dinner, every scene on stage and even the music you hear on departure will all be transported to you, beautifully and transparently, through the results of his artistry.
When ASTRA began back in the fall of 2003, a small number of fun-loving and borderline crazy artists joined forces to put on our first play. While many were strangers to each other, we were driven by our common desire to create a stage production that none of us could achieve byourselves. Individuals gave of their time and talent—one of these individuals was Johnny Bass.
Since the start of ASTRA, Johnny has rearranged his business schedule, hired assistants and done what was necessary to ensure he was available for every production. His contribution of time, talent, experience, and yes, hardware have ensured the success of each of ASTRA’s nine productions.
Our venue is a gymnasium with concrete walls and hardwood floor. Sound generally echoes, making voices difficult to hear. In this poor acoustical environment, we add a live orchestra, actors, soloists and chorus (who are usually moving around) and often a few sound effects. How do you make a backstage soloist audible to the patrons sitting next to the orchestra pit?
Johnny applies heavy equipment—over a mile of cabling; 28 or more speakers; a similar number of wireless, overhead and floor microphones and racks of amplifiers along with technical expertise, sound (excuse the pun) judgment and a very light touch on the controls. He also has provided significant portions of our lighting and intercom systems. These monitor everything (even the house floor), and Johnny mixes and balances it all, providing just the right sound where needed—even backstage and in the dressing rooms. Because he is so successful, you never notice the sound guy or the speakers behind you—you simply enjoy the show.
Johnny integrates sound, power, lighting and communications into a system that is both effective and transparent. During our productions, he also integrates the technical team into an organization that is similarly effective and transparent. Throughout months of planning, he coordinates with directors, lighting, stage crew and house management to ensure the infrastructure (training, organization and hardware) is present when our production opens.
Like the system he creates, Johnny observes much, coordinates fully, reduces static and gently ensures that the right messages are heard. Calm in a crisis, professional and courteous in all his interactions, Johnny models desirable team behaviors and helps us achieve a higher standard. He is our dedicated and constant sound designer and friend. ASTRA is a far, far better ministry because of him.
ASTRA would like to recognize and honor Craig and Julie Webster as A-STAR Award recipients. Craig and Julie Webster joined the ASTRA family during The Wizard of Oz. Like so many parents of children in the show, they helped out during the production, but for Julie and Craig, it became much more. They have been faithfully involved in the operations of the kitchen since 2005. Initially, they both assisted with meal preparation, food service, kitchen cleanup and dishwashing during productions. Since then, they have taken on more managerial positions in the kitchen.
One cannot overstate the complexities associated with serving 200 delicious meals in only 20 minutes—all within the limitations of our Parish Center kitchen. The ovens are tricky, cold storage is limited, and you are subject to health department inspection at any time. As a result, the work is hard, the pace is fast and there is little room for error. In this environment, Craig closely assisted the head chef during several dinner shows, even giving up days off by running dessert shows himself. Last year, Craig was part of a team that ran the kitchen in coordination with an outside caterer. He has consistently stretched himself to accommodate our needs, faithfully kept his commitments and always demonstrated a calm, competent leadership that invites others to service. Without Craig’s willingness to commit himself to these essential supporting roles, and without his competence in culinary affairs, many of our dinner theatre presentations could not have happened. One person simply cannot do it alone; Craig has been an integral part of the committed team that we have relied on to make our food service possible.
You can bet that on any given night, you will not only find Craig in the kitchen, hard at work, but right alongside him will be his wife and partner, Julie.
Julie has helped with set painting and was one of our sergeant of arms during our last production, Oliver! But it is her presence in the kitchen that is most striking. There is pure joy in Julie’s smile whether she is serving food, bussing tables or operating the dishwasher to clean more than 400 plates used during our dinner theatre presentations. She exudes quiet competence and genuine hospitality, is quick to identify what needs to be done and always eager to step in. By quietly mentoring servers and leading through example, she has helped to raise the standard of service to our patrons.
After the curtain falls and the patrons leave, there is much work to be done before the next performance. All the tables must be cleared and reset, dishes washed and stored, the kitchen cleaned, fl oors mopped, towels laundered, garbage picked up and hauled out and the entire facility policed and secured. It is this thankless work that makes the next show a success, and it is a measure of Craig and Julie’s dedication that they are there to the end. When the last light is out, and we head for the production party (or our warm beds!), Craig and Julie settle in for the long drive back to Gig Harbor.
Julie and Craig have generously given of their time, talent and enthusiasm to support ASTRA’s mission, and they have done so selflessly and lovingly every step of the way.