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Director’s love of Super Summer Theatre began as a young audience member

Vegas Voices is a weekly question-and-answer series featuring notable Las Vegans.

Steve Huntsman has made himself at home at Super Summer Theatre for much of his life — first as an audience member, then as a performer, director, set designer and costume designer.

His latest directorial project, “Beauty and the Beast,” opens a 12-performance run Wednesday at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, the annual theater festival’s outdoor home. But, in an SST first, all advance tickets have sold out. (Some tickets may be available at the gate, but there’s no guarantee.)

“For me it is” a cause for celebration, Huntsman says of “Beauty and the Beast’s” drawing power. “But not for the people who want tickets.”

Huntsman knows how those locals feel. After all, he’s one of them: a Las Vegas native and Rancho High School graduate who’s so accustomed to life on the valley’s northeast side that he never notices the jet noise from nearby Nellis Air Force Base.

We caught up with Huntsman, 39, to talk theater, family (wife Sandra, also a frequent SST performer, is his partner in Huntsman Entertainment — and in parenting their four kids, ages 8 to 16) and Vegas life.

Review-Journal: Where did you grow up in Las Vegas?

Huntsman: I grew up in the northeast, by (Nellis) Air Force Base. … I went on a mission for my church, and then I came back and found Sandra. We met doing a show — “Fiddler on the Roof,” for Signature Productions. In that show, my character, Perchik, proposed to her character, Hodel, so I proposed (to Sandra) on closing night — in the middle of the show. (They’ve been married 17 years.)

R-J: What was your favorite thing about growing up in Las Vegas?

Huntsman: I know this sounds kind of cheesy, but I looked forward to going out to Super Summer Theatre every year. I was 12 years old and I think “Grease” was the first show I saw. When I saw that show, something sparked in me. I said, “I can do that — and I want to do that.” Either to be on stage or put things up on the stage. I never, never dreamed I’d be performing on that stage.

R-J: How has Las Vegas changed through the years?

Huntsman: Oh, wow. The geography has just changed incredibly. I remember dating a girl in high school. She lived at Buffalo (Drive) and Summerlin Parkway. In high school, that was the end of the universe. I made excuses not to see her, because I didn’t have enough gas money.

R-J: How has the local theater scene changed?

Huntsman: We’ve seen a lot of theater companies come and go. Sadly, and unfortunately, some professional companies come here and try to get established and just can’t make it work here. … Now, having The Smith Center here is making people more aware of the musical theater scene. … They’re more trusting when they see a local production. They think, “It’s a lot cheaper than The Smith Center.” Sometimes they like what they see, sometimes they don’t.

R-J: What’s your favorite venue?

Huntsman: I have to say, it’s Super Summer Theatre. I love being out there. I love the space. And I love that you have lots of problems (with no fly loft and limited space in the wings and backstage). As a designer, that forces you outside of that box and it makes you think of interesting ways you can present your story.

R-J: What’s your favorite show you’ve seen in Las Vegas?

Huntsman: I most recently went and saw “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” (which played The Smith Center in March). I know it won a Tony, but I didn’t know anything about that show. I just loved everything about it. I loved the talent, the design, the way the show flowed. … A lot of times, I already know so much about the show, but watching that show, I was met with genuine wonder and awe.

R-J: What’s the best thing about living in Las Vegas?

Huntsman: My family’s here. All of my family, except for one sister, lives in town. We’re all so busy in life, but we always get together at least once a month for a big family dinner. … There are seven of us (siblings), total, so there are a lot of people at that dinner table.

Read more from Carol Cling at reviewjournal.com. Contact her at ccling@reviewjournal.com and follow @CarolSCling on Twitter.

 

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