Meet (and help) our new backstage MVPs

Julie CoppensUncategorized

Cameron Thorp and the old company van. Lending or donating vehicles is a great way to support Perseverance!

Shelly Wright already has given the Perseverance costume shop an extreme makeover.

Our cast of characters is growing! In addition to announcing our new managing director Joshua Midgett, this month we welcome a new company manager, Cameron Thorp, and a new costume shop manager, Shelly Wright, to the Juneau staff. In Anchorage, Alexis Sheeder has joined the team as an outreach and development associate.

“I feel like after 35 years in this community, costuming for all the great arts organizations, I am finally home,” says Shelly, a designer and administrator familiar to many on the Juneau scene. “I am looking forward to my first year with Perseverance.”

Alexis, too, has lent her energy and creativity to a number of Anchorage companies, including Cyrano’s and Alaska Junior Theatre.

Cameron was an intern for Perseverance’s 2014-15 season, taking on a wide range of duties as a production assistant under Kathleen Harper. He’s returned since then to stage manage, breaking in his new Equity card on William, Inc. and becoming a friend to everyone here—so when Kathleen departed this summer to take on a new role at the JAHC/Centennial Hall, Cameron got the call.

“It’s an all-in-the-family thing,” Cameron says, laughing. “Having worked alongside Kathleen—she trained me for this job even before I knew I was going to do it. It’s nice that she trusts me.”

Cameron grew up in a community-theatre-loving family in Michigan and attended Saginaw Valley State University, earning a degree in theatre and gender studies. He discovered a passion for backstage work—prop design, in particular—when he auditioned for a campus production of Sam Shepherd’s Buried Child and didn’t get a part. “I offered to help with props… and I spent two months building a dead baby. I got a little too into it,” he recalls with an shudder—but the piece took top honors at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

After graduation, Cameron says, he started doing more backstage work, finding more satisfaction and pride in that than he ever had as an actor. “Working on monologues, headshots—that stuff wasn’t fun anymore,” he says. Searching for job opportunities one day, he Googled “professional theatres in…” and went alphabetically by state. “I didn’t get past A. I saw Perseverance Theatre, and I thought, this can’t be real—there can’t be a professional theatre in Alaska! That’s so cool.”

Many shows, strange props, and flying plates of spaghetti later (yes, he survived The Odd Couple)—and after stints at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, Houston Ballet, and elsewhere—Cameron is back at Perseverance in his first permanent, full-time job. As our company manager, he books travel, arranges housing and generally takes care of all our visiting artists; he’ll stage manage Whale Song, among all the other random and essential tasks that Kathleen managed so cheerfully.

You can help! Cameron is seeking donations of vehicles, airline miles, guest artist housing, and other assistance for the coming seasons in Juneau and Anchorage. Shelly could use a handyperson’s help with some shop set-up tasks; she’ll also be hiring part-time stitchers, launderers and others as we head into production this fall.

There are many ways to support the artists here at Perseverance—and friends who step up receive complimentary tickets and other perks, along with our undying gratitude. Please contact Cameron or Shelly directly if you can help:,

And consider working here yourself. Perseverance is currently recruiting a new Technical Director, Assistant Technical Director, experienced stage managers and other crew positions for the coming season, as well as a professional bookkeeper, full- or part-time. For details: