Released February 9, 1999
Sutton Resident Meets Big Names in the Arts
DANVILLE, KY -- When Sutton resident Seth Coulter began working as a student usher at Centre College's Norton Center for the Arts, he thought it might be a fun way to earn money and see great stage performances. Little did he know that his campus job would put him eye to eye with the likes of Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart, movie director Spike Lee and performing groups ranging from the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra to the rock group Three Dog Night.
After three years as an usher, Coulter was named house manager during the 1998 fall term and continues this spring as co-manager with another student. In this role, Coulter has taken on a heavy workload to assist staff members in the Norton Center.
The college arts center annually offers 40 major performances, and the student usher corps is expected to help with everything from ticket sales to program distribution.
Coulter says the job is almost always fun yet demanding, and he says the best illustration was the recent January day when the college hosted a gala event featuring the Boston Pops. "I think I worked 12 hours that day," Coulter says with a grin. "The student workers spent part of the afternoon setting up the main stage for the performance, then we put on tuxedos to greet guests for a black-tie dinner in a neighboring building. After that, it was back to the arts center to distribute programs and show guests to their seats."
The most memorable part of that day for Coulter? Greeting Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart when he arrived in a stretch limo.
Friends sometimes expect Coulter to have a scrapbook filled with photos of him with the famous people he has met. In truth, he says, there's little time for pictures. "When I meet these people, all of us are focused on one thing: getting ready for a big event. There's so much work to be done, you can't ask someone to stop and pose for a picture."
Coulter says he won't have trouble remembering his experiences, with or without photos. For instance, the evening when the Russian National Ballet presented Tchaikovsky's "Sleeping Beauty." Coulter explains what happened: "As house manager, I was supposed to walk onstage at the end of performance and deliver bouquets of roses to certain ballerinas. The director told me over and over 'You must give some flowers to the prima ballerina or she will get very upset.' When I went onstage, there seemed to be hundreds of ballerinas, all bunched together. I couldn't see the prima ballerina at all, so I handed roses to a few dancers as I worked my way across the stage. I tried to ask about the prima ballerina but no one spoke English. Finally I found her, in the middle of a crowd of ballerinas. She seemed almost shy and wasn't concerned about the flowers, although she took them graciously."
Coulter says his experiences have intrigued him about possible careers in arts management, but for now he still plans to attend law school after graduating from Centre. Until then, he's likely to meet a few more celebrities. This spring he's likely to meet cellist Yo-Yo Ma and actor Kenneth Tigar, as well as the beloved musical group, The Chieftains. All in a day's work at the Norton Center.
Coulter is a 1996 graduate of Worcester Academy. His parents are Glen and Dale Coulter.
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