Patron Spotlight

Stage West’s Development Director, Tonya Wilson-Brown, recently got the chance to catch up with a loyal Stage West Premium Season Ticket holder, Melissa Deur. Melissa and her husband, Charles, have been coming to Stage West for 15 years and are strong supporters of theatre that challenges audiences.

How long have you been coming to Stage West?

You know, I just went back through my old calendars. My husband introduced me to Stage West and we went on a date there in 2008. The first play we saw was The Clean House - that’s when we became season ticket holders. The other play that stood out back then was The Norman Conquests and then Copenhagen. I could go on and on to include Bad Jews, Ann (the Ann Richards Play), and even this past season’s Into the Breeches!.

We like Stage West plays because they are very layered.

How did you become interested in theatre in general?

What tipped it off for me was when my parents took me to the theatre in Connecticut as a child. For my tenth birthday, they took me to the Shubert Theatre in New Haven to see My Fair Lady. I was enthralled. In the seat I was sitting in, I could see the inner workings of how the set moved from one scene to the next on the stage. Also, the costumes were just beautiful.

Why do you support SWT?

What we love about Stage West is its intimacy of it. It feels accessible. It also feels special to know the staff and have a friendly relationship with the theatre.

I like theatre that challenges you to think. For instance, On the Exhale. I sometimes feel disappointed when audience members just want to see a story tied up with a cute bow.

My initial First Tuesday experience was listening to Sharon Herrera from LGBTQ Saves. I came to that evening out of curiosity. She shared her life journey and it was incredibly moving. When I come to Stage West, I try to come with an open mind. I leave changed.

What is your favorite show of recent memory at Stage West?

Guards at the Taj. My husband’s roommate from college came with us to see the show. We had dinner in the cafe beforehand. He was simply amazed. I just kept thinking how great it was that a History professor was impressed by the show and the historical accuracy of it. For me, that play was impressive on many levels.

Up until this year, we have been able to travel and go to Broadway often. Some people think they have to go to New York to see great plays. I am proud to take people to Stage West and say “look at this - you don’t have to leave town to see this.”

What three words would you use to sell SWT to a friend?

Professional but intimate.

We are so grateful to Melissa and Charles for their long time and loyal support of Stage West and our local arts scene