Professional actress rehearsing with mask on stage

Professional actress rehearsing with mask on stage ()

Volunteering can be such a fulfilling activity. It provides much-needed services in areas as well as providing volunteers an opportunity to give back, meet new people and learn new skills. Volunteering is especially important in the military community because the community is always moving and changing, and volunteer organizations can provide some stability and greatly needed resources. Every other month, we will be highlighting a new organization or event for those who are looking to learn more about the services and resources available to them as well as for those who are looking to give back to the community.

This month we are featuring on-post community theaters. I interviewed Kelly O’Donnell from Wiesbaden’s Amelia Earhart Playhouse, and she shared some insights into what it was like to volunteer with the theatre.

Kelly began with the theater in Summer 2019 when her kids started acting in the shows. She said, “I [would] drive my kids to rehearsal and kind-of sit for two hours, and I just figured, ‘what can I do to help?’” She helped by becoming a backstage mom who brought snacks, but then quickly shifted to working behind the scenes as part of the set crew the closer they got to show time. Since then, Kelly has had opportunities to direct an all-youth show, “Matilda Jr.,” as well as helped to revive the booster organization, which does a lot of the front-of-house tasks (such as ticket sales and ushering) and fundraising. She is looking forward to being the costumer for the upcoming show, “Puffs,” and hopes to show off her tapping skills in the Spring musical, “Something Rotten!”

When asked about the fulfilling aspects of volunteering with a community theater, one word kept coming up, “community.” Kelly repeatedly espoused how the theater gave her a sense of community that she might not have otherwise found. She noted that, “when you are involved with a show, you spend so much time with these people in a condensed space, and you get really close to everyone and it becomes a second family, which I think is even more important here because we don’t all have our families here.” Coming from a contracting family, Kelly doesn’t always have a lot in common with traditional military families and said how it can be “hard to find our place in the military community,” but the theater is “so open and welcoming to everybody” and provided her and other volunteers with a community and special family all their own.

However, working with a constantly shifting (and let’s be honest, PCS’ing) group of volunteers, can be hard. Unfortunately, the theater still hasn’t recovered from the closures due to COVID-19, plus volunteer recruitment is down and Kelly thinks that is in part due to the theater is “trying to get word out that [they] even exist.” At the time of writing, the show doesn’t have a costumer, but the volunteers have been smart and crafty in arranging wardrobes pieced together from lucky finds and what the crew had on hand.

Volunteering with the Amelia Earhart Playhouse gives you the opportunity to work with an award-winning theatre group. The Booster Organization’s current fundraising event is working towards sending the cast and crew of their recent one-act festival to America to compete in the national competition of the American Association of Community Theatres.

If acting, singing or dancing isn’t your thing, you can still help with future shows. The theater is always looking for volunteers: Anything from directing, to front-of-house work, to set building and painting, costuming and so much more.

Those interested in volunteering at the Playhouse can go to their Facebook page,, email them at or go to the Booster Organization’s table at their current show, “Puffs” or “Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic,” February 3-4, 10-11, 17-18 at 7:30 p.m. and February 5, 12, 19 at 2:00 p.m. or their upcoming musical, “Something Rotten!,” March 17-18, 23-25 at 7:30 p.m. and March 18-19, 25 at 2:00 p.m.

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