“My goal is to not have a single weekend dark, outside of Christmas or New Year’s.”
David Herbelin, the new managing director at Olympic Theatre Arts (OTA), described the theater as a place where something is always happening, and the community feels welcome to get involved with a variety of projects.
“The goal for me is to make this place the hub of entertainment and community involvement for the peninsula,” he said in an interview last week.
Steve Rodeman, chair of the board, said that the theater has been looking for a managing director since July. “David’s blend of theater and business experiences made him the most qualified candidate. We are looking forward to David integrating further with our community, and engaging with him in exploring new ways for OTA to reach out to folks as we always try to expand the audiences for performing arts.”
Herbelin, who started on Sept. 20, sees his role as a balancing act: He wants the theater to continue its tradition of community and volunteer involvement while developing and expanding it further, with an eye on good business practices.
Herbelin said that working for OTA draws upon all his past experience, educational and work-related, in a way jobs rarely do.
“I’m firing on all cylinders; it’s tapping into every aspect of me,” he said.
Herbelin said that the “theatre” is a building while “theatre arts” is “the magic that happens inside.”
He noted, “We have two main products: One product is the productions for the community to come and experience (while) the other is an open door, a playground, for our community to play and learn by being a part of those same productions.”
Herbelin said he sees “theatre arts as connection,” from the writers, directors and producers connecting with the actors and technicians, the actors and technicians connecting to the production and audience and the audience connecting to the show.
“Since Olympic Theatre Arts doesn’t just hire road-show productions, but instead produces our own art, supports local groups, and invites outside talent, its purpose is to be the source of connection for the Olympic Peninsula,” he said.
“That’s why we’re not just a theatre. We focus on connection through the magic of theatre arts.”
Entertainment runs in the family
Herbelin, who has two daughters, has been looking for an appropriate job in the area since his family first bought their house in Sequim in 2017. His parents and two brothers live in Sequim, and his wife’s parents are moving here, too.
Originally from the town of Solvang in southern California, most of Herbelin’s education has been centered in Orange County, Calif. He has a master’s degree in leadership, a bachelor of arts degree in drama, and extensive experience operating businesses, both as a manager of comedy and improv clubs (he helped bring Second City Improv from Chicago to Los Angeles) and operating his own.
A self-described “workaholic,” Herbelin worked for Disney as a theme-park entertainer for 20 years. During that time, with his family, he operated a series of businesses. Two businesses they continue to run are Edutainment Arts, which hosts summer camps for children, and Puzzlemazement, an escape room.
Here in Sequim, Herbelin’s family is developing a lavender farm.
Herbelin’s wife Melissa has worked at Disney for 30 years, with an extensive range of experience, and is still looking for employment in Clallam or Jefferson County. Their elder daughter works at Disney also and is staying in California.