People: Mike Tuttle, Fort Harrod Drama managing producer

June 14, 2004

Even though he has been managing producer for Fort Harrod Drama Productions for five years now, Mike Tuttle is no stranger to the James Harrod Amphitheatre at Old Fort Harrod State Park.

Last year, he was stage manager for the theater's production, "Daniel Boone, The Man and the Legend," and functioned as sound designer before that.

"The best thing people can do in theater is get to know people," Tuttle notes.

His theater trek began in 1997, he says, with Col. Eben Henson at the Pioneer Playhouse in Danville.

"I came in to see what the place was," Tuttle explains. "The Colonel put me to work parking cars. Two weeks later, I was the assistant technical director. Two weeks later, I was running the light board. Two weeks later, I was backstage working special effects. Two weeks later, I was cast in a show. Two weeks later, I was running the sound board."


He sound designed a show at Ragged Edge Community Theater, then turned to making music for a while with the group Backroom Blues. He returned to Pioneer Playhouse in 2000 to sound design a show that a friend was directing.

"Then Holly (Henson) kept me to do hers," Tuttle adds.

Sound design varies from theater to theater, Tuttle says. At "Boone," he gets together the music and sound effects for the show, then puts them on a CD or mini-disc. The biggest job, though, is getting the sound equipment set.

Layton brought him into the "Boone" fold

He studied at Eastern Kentucky University for a while and made a friend along the way, Joy Burns, who introduced him to Henry Layton. Layton was working as fight director for "Boone," a capacity he is filling this summer as well. He brought Tuttle into the "Boone" fold.

"I ended up two weeks later doing sound design for Fort Harrod Drama productions," Tuttle says.

When "Boone" ended last year, Tuttle and his girlfriend headed off to Rochester, N.Y., for a job.

"It was a horrible job," Tuttle says. "It was falsely advertised."

He called a fellow Booney, Shannon Andrews, who offered them a place to stay in Dallas. In the meantime, he also received a call from Fort Harrod Drama Productions to gauge his interest in becoming the managing producer there. That job did not open up until January, so his girlfriend, Amy, and he headed to Dallas.

Tuttle points to stacks of papers and boxes. "I've lived out of clothes baskets and suitcases since 1997," he says wryly.

He likes his job, as he likes theater in general. "I like connecting with the audience and the people onstage," Tuttle explains. "In this particular job, I get to come up with ideas things that look cool onstage ... pushing-the-envelope ideas. I couldn't do this before.

"I have an awesome team. Picking a really good team makes this so easy. They all take this seriously. About all I have to do is show up and they do their jobs."

He's staying on as stage manager for "Boone."

"Anything he (director Tim Davis) does, I try to work with him. ... And this way, I'm still out there. Stage managing is where the fun part is at."

"Enormity of the task list" makes his job a challenge

The challenge of his job is "the enormity of the task list," he says, as he shows a long list of duties that could be part of his job.

"This job, literally, is about 15 jobs," Tuttle explains. " The sheer amount of stuff I have to do - I'm constantly having to switch gears."

Tuttle, a Kentucky native, adds he didn't know how much he liked Kentucky until he left it.

In his of down time, as he looks past the "Boone" season, Tuttle says he has several songs together and hopes to record again.

"It won't be blues this time," he explains. "It will be more of an upbeat, acoustic sound. I've fallen in love with techno-music."

He also is working on three independent film scripts. "I'll pick one and work on it," he notes. "I can use the actors here - they'll be bored in a few weeks."

But the season has just begun for "Boone," so all of Tuttle's focus is on the show.

"This year, everything is bigger, better and hotter," he explains of what he calls a PG-13 show, due to "realistic violence."

"We're bringing back a lot of the old dances, and there are two wall fires instead of one.

"We're bringing back the Shaman, played by Jenny Fitzpatrick, who is the dance choreographer. And we get some nice fireworks stuff - smoke and explosions."

He's changed the season setup a bit as well. "We're doing special rates. ... Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, if you live in Mercer County or a county that adjoins, it's buy one, get one free (for tickets)."

For tickets to "Daniel Boone, The Man and the Legend," call 1-800-852-6663.

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