Enthusiasm for theater leads teacher to open her own
Terri Schafer got her wish. She works on Broadway.
About one year ago, the former School District 51 choral and theater teacher created Showtime Productions at 2148 Broadway on the Redlands. Schafer didn’t look for a rental unit on Broadway on purpose, but even she laughs at how things worked out.
“Now, I’m doing what I want to do when I grow up,” said Schafer, 55. “I smile every day that I come to work.”
When Schafer retired from teaching nearly 18 months ago, she began teaching private vocal and piano lessons. She did that for about six months before her students said they wanted more.
“I had a ton of kids from school that said, ‘Schafer, we want to do theater,’ ” said Schafer, who spent more than 15 years teaching between Bookcliff Middle and Grand Junction High School.
“She didn’t need much pushing,” said student DJ Schuett, 20.
Schuett was one of Schafer’s students at Bookcliff Middle School and one of the students who asked for a theater program. He is now a music education major at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. The opportunity to continue working with Schafer played a role in Schuett’s decision to come back to Grand Junction this summer.
Schuett wanted to travel with Schafer to New York City this month to work with Broadway talent. He also wanted to star in Showtime’s production of “RENT.”
“RENT” is controversial for children to perform and watch because of the language and script, Schafer said. The original “RENT” deals with subjects such as social inequality and HIV/AIDS.
Schafer found an edited version and received parents’ permission for their children to perform in the show.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without her,” Schuett said. “She has such a creative and positive energy about her.”
And Schafer is positively excited to talk about her theater and New York City.
She has spent the past 18 months making contacts in the city so she can take local students to Broadway to see shows and take workshops from actors, directors and producers. Schafer also plans to host yearly women’s trips to New York City.
Until she retired from teaching, Schafer had never been to Broadway or New York City.
Since then, she has seen 40 Broadway shows and cried at every one. Maybe she’ll live in New York City someday, but right now, she can’t leave her theater or family. Her two grown children and four granddaughters live in Mesa County.
Students at Schafer’s theater, ranging from elementary school children to college students, perform versions of popular Broadway pieces. “Sweeney Todd,” “Les Miserables” and “RENT” are examples of edgier shows her older students have performed. Her younger students perform simpler pieces, such as “Beauty and the Beast.”
Next summer, Schafer wants to do a Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, possibly “South Pacific” or “The Sound of Music.”
“She made acting a real thing for me,” said Drew Bradley, 20, a voice performance major at the University of Denver.
He has been part of two Showtime productions since the theater opened. “I thought I understood acting. I’ve learned so much about theater and what you have to go through to succeed.”
Teaching children, teenagers and young adults what musical theater is all about is what Schafer is all about. She calls music her “passion.”
“I’m hanging on by a kite string right now and going with the flow and loving every minute of that,” Schafer said.