By Gary Goettling
Randy Davison and Jim Nelson have more in common than their age, the town where they live and their retiree status. The 67-year-old Tucker residents are also key volunteers with the up-and-coming Main Street Theatre (MST), a live-performance amateur theater based at the Tucker Recreation Center.
“I have no business being on-stage,” laughed Davison, who retired in 2014 after more than 25 years in IT, most recently with Macy’s. “I’m fine with being in the back, pushing buttons and making things work.”
As MST’s technical director, his considerable responsibilities include set design and construction, lighting and sound. Davison has worked on each of MST’s five major shows since its inaugural performance of “Harvey” two years ago.
“It’s really a labor of love,” he said. “It’s a lot of work, but there’s a great deal of personal satisfaction that comes from working hard over a relatively short period of time and then seeing something as complex as a stage production come together successfully.
“The applause at the end of a performance is really meant for everyone connected with staging a show,” he added, “not just the actors. That’s what I really enjoy and what makes it all worthwhile.”
Nelson became involved with the theater company last year when he was selected for the cast of “Second Samuel.”
“I majored in theater as an undergraduate in college,” said the Ohio Wesleyan alumnus and MST board member. “At the time, my dream was to be a famous Broadway producer-director. Life got in the way of that goal, but I always knew that I wanted to go back into theater after I retired.”
After spending 30 years in the ministry at both Methodist and Baptist churches, Nelson retired at the end of 2016 as pastor of Northeast Baptist.
Earlier this year, he wrote and directed MST’s production of “Murder in the Winery,” a dinner-theater play held in partnership with M572, a local restaurant. He’s writing MST’s next murder-mystery, “Murder at the Theater,” set to be performed in late July. Most recently, he produced MST’s May performance of the musical comedy, “Smoke on the Mountain.” Nelson is also involved with set design and construction.
The opportunity to give back to the community by fostering involvement in the performing arts is another motivating factor, Nelson says.
“I’m setting up acting classes and summer programs for children—relatively small things we can do around town,” he explains. “The idea is to enhance and expand MST’s role in our area, particularly among the next generation of actors and theater-goers.”
At the same time, his efforts “fill my creative needs and give me a chance to stay active and be involved and do something I love.”