A look at two Box-Office Managers for beloved area theater companies
Although on-stage performers have stories to tell, there is also a backstage story that needs to be told — it’s “A Tale of Two… Box-Office Managers.”
Brooke Reese (Millbrook Playhouse) and Brenda J. Kropp (Community Theatre League) serve their theatre groups in a variety of functions, but primarily as Box-Office Managers.
Both have appeared as performers in various roles for different theatre groups, but usually the demands of managing the box office often keeps them behind the window of their box office booth.
This Lock Haven resident is equally comfortable on stage performing or behind the Will Call window at Millbrook’s box-office.
With a Bachelor of Arts degree in Musical Theatre from Lock Haven University in 2016, Reese has also served as a Theatre Camp assistant for the professional Millbrook Playhouse for the last four years.
She also is a Freelance Light Designer for Millbrook, Lock Haven University, and Central Mountain High School.
Her last on-stage role was earlier this year in the Community Theatre League’s production of “Company.”
She previously appeared in Millbrook Playhouse’s “Suessical the Musical,” “Brothers Grimm,” “Fancy Nancy the Musical” and “Guys and Dolls.”
At Lock Haven University, Reese was featured in its productions of “Next To Normal,” “And Then There Were None,” “Footloose,” “Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike” and “Urinetown.”
Reese also was featured in “Techies: The Musical” and “Gruesome Playground Injuries” for the Countdown Theatre group.
She enthusiastically states that she lives by the quote, “Whatever you put out into the world will always come back to you.”
“Having worked multiple positions within Millbrook Playhouse, those words resonate more true, each year I return.”
“It’s been a joy to interact with patrons and remember names and faces from the last time I was in the box. In addition to working in the box office, I have had the opportunity to act on the stage, light the stage, and assist with the Theatre Camps for the last five years”.
“It has been such a rewarding experience to watch the kids age into new camps, and expand their knowledge of the theatre, so that they may continue their journey, and maybe one day work at the theater that taught them so much”, Reese says.
When time permits, Brooke Reese’s hobbies include reading, singing, traveling and — destigmatizing the fear of reptiles. (Now that’s one unique hobby!)
BRENDA J. KROPP
Her full name is Brenda Jane Liske Kropp, but she has been known as B.J. since childhood.
She started doing plays in school and churches, and community theatre while her father was stationed in Germany. She continued with drama clubs in high schools in Malvern, and Fort Knox, Kentucky.
At Mansfield State College, while working toward a B.S. degree in Elementary Education, and a minor in Speech and Theatre, she was a performer and worked the box-office for a couple of the college’s theatre groups.
After settling in Montoursville in 1975, she began doing box office for The Williamsport Players, and acted in several of its musicals and plays.
Kropp started with CTL in 1977, and was featured in its first production “Once Upon A Mattress” in the basement of the Lycoming County Historical Museum.
In the years that followed, she worked as an usher, kid wrangler, costumes, and props.
In Spring, 1986, Kropp took over the Community Theatre League’s box office and, as one of its most dedicated volunteers, has done it “for almost every show since then except when I was in a show or away.”
At the old theatre on Washington Blvd., tickets were reserved by phone using a call-forwarding system, with customers paying Kropp on the night of the performance, with her reconciling the receipts and making bank deposits.
Also as a valued actress, Kropp appeared at the old Kingdom Hall in several Sprouts’ Theater for Children shows, and CTL plays, including Mark Dunn’s “Five Tellers Dancing In the Rain.”
Now at the downtown theatre, Kropp works with a half dozen volunteers for each performance to help with “front of the house, mainly by email”. The box-office format has changed as customers can now buy tickets with credit cards, and can purchase tickets by phone, directly at the box-office window, or online.
She also serves on CTL’s Board of Directors as Corresponding Secretary, co-manages the costume shop with Gail Landers, and serves as a Ray of Light adjudicator.
Currently working at a library aide at Montoursville’s Lyter Elementary School, Kropp has been an enthusiastic member of the Williamsport Civic Chorus since 1990, and recently returned from a tour of Ireland.
Kropp summarizes her current status as a performer and mainly as box-office manager by stating, “I think that the Community Theatre League is a great place in that we not only have quality productions, but that anyone regardless of age or ability can participate.”