At the theatre since the beginning

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April 16, 2015 8:15 AM

Josef Jacobson Photo Leone Duczek, right, and her husband Herb have been volunteering at the Vic Juba Community Theatre since the venue opened in 2002. - Josef Jacobson Photo

Leone Duczek has been involved with the Vic Juba Community Theatre since before there was a Vic Juba Community Theatre.

After donating money to help with the theatre’s construction, Duczek and her husband, Herb, decided to donate their time to help with the theatre’s operation. She retired from a career in nursing in 2002, just around the time the theatre opened. It was perfect timing.

“We enjoy the performing arts, the live performances, and we sure didn’t mind just having them right here in town,” Duczek said. “We thought it would be a great opportunity for local people to showcase the many talents that we have in this community.”

At the Vic Juba Community Theatre, volunteers are relied on to serve as ushers, coat-checkers, concessions operators and merchandise vendors. The are currently around 90 volunteers, including a a core group of 25 to 30 individuals.

“Literally, our theatre would not operate without our volunteers. They’re the backbone of a lot of our service delivery,” said Vic Juba Community Theatre general manager Kevin Kraft. ” They contribute around here in ways that you wouldn’t even expect. In a lot of ways, they’re the front line. They’re the first people that our attendees get to meet when they come to the theatre, too. (They have) the right mood-set and certainly dedication. We have a phenomenal group of volunteers.”

Duczek says the theatre has flexible hours for volunteers and being retired, she can come in to usher during morning and daytime performances, while other volunteers may be working. She says the theatre has undergone changes since first opening and how now developed a positive reputation among travelling performers.

“I think we’re getting better quality acts coming in. As certain people will come in and perform, I think the word gets out that we’ve got a good quality facility here,” Duczek said. “It’s amazing how many groups come in and, somewhere during their program, will comment on what a lovely theatre we have here and ... the quality of our theatre and the people that work behind the scenes.”

Over the years, many volunteers have come and gone through the theatre and Duczek says she has met a lot of nice people and made friendly acquaintances through her volunteer work. She says encouraging young people to pursue the performing arts is important to her, so she and her husband try to volunteer to help when school plays and music recitals come to the theatre.

“I enjoy the local productions that have been put on here ... some of the children’s productions too, through Lakeland College. They work with young people and they have done some very nice productions,” Duczek said. “What I really appreciate about the theatre is that our local people are getting the chance to (perform) and grow their talents and maybe go on to larger things.”

And when those young singers and dancers and actors move on, Duczek will still be at the theatre, watching the next generation of performers take their place.

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