SHERIDAN — From a young age, Morgan Parker has had a love of theater. She grew up in Sheridan and worked her way through the many theater programs available in the city. Her mom, Heidi Parker, remembers her passion for music and theater growing from her early days in Tandem Productions and the high school musicals.
“She loved learning new songs, meeting new friends and of course, getting some limelight on the stage,” Heidi Parker said. “She had to bide her time and wondered when she would get old enough to get a big part or a lead role and she was so excited when her time came to show everyone what she could do.”
For Morgan Parker, her favorite memories all come from Tandem because she grew up in the program and fostered her love of theater there.
“Growing up and seeing who I thought were the big kids because they were the eighth-graders and freshmen in high school and I was the little third-grader to them growing up and being that same type of role model for some of the younger kids, it really sparked a passion in not only theater, but producing children’s theater, which has lead me on the career path I’m on today,” Parker said.
Her parents weren’t sure how she could translate that love of theater into a career but she found a way through a program at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.
“We knew she wanted to study theater and music in college, but we told her she needed to find a way to take her love of the arts and make a living doing it,” Heidi Parker said. “She discovered theater business and has been loving it.”
As a rising senior at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Parker is continuing her love and involvement in theater as part of the leadership of two theater company programs while pursuing a major in theatrical studies, a minor in business and a certification in theater entrepreneurship.
Parker is also the treasurer of a student group on campus called Manifesto Theatre.
“Our mission is to be a philanthropic theater company that produces socially relevant works of theater while giving back to our community,” Parker said.
The theater company has been in production for two years and has raised more than $2,000 for different advocacy projects such as the Innocence Project, Greeley Grief Center, University of Colorado gender and sexuality resource center and the American Alzheimer’s Association.
“We’re really proud of what type of things we’re able to give back to our community and not only teach people through our acting in our theater but teaching them how to give back to the community as well,” Parker said.
The group produces work from UNC students, local and new playwrights, as well as some more well known pieces.
Parker is also involved in the university’s summer stock theater company, Little Theater of the Rockies, as the publicity manager in the marketing office. The company brings in guests who have worked off Broadway or in professional regional theater and UNC alum to mentor students and show what a professional career is like.
“We really pride ourselves on being an educational, yet professional, environment for students to come and work their craft during the summertime,” Parker said.
Little Theater of the Rockies is celebrating its 85th anniversary, making it the oldest summer stock theater company west of the Mississippi.
For Parker, working in this type of theater is rewarding because of the impact it has on the audience and communities in which the performances take place.
“We are teaching our audiences about these certain social issues and how they can affect these type of characters and how these characters represent real people in our lives and…how we can help and support them through these times and then also teach them how to give back to their own communities through philanthropic practices,” Parker said.
Looking toward the future, after earning her undergraduate degree, Parker hopes to attend graduate school for theater administration and afterward hold an administrative position in a theater company, like an executive director or artistic director. She hopes to start her own nonprofit children’s theater company like Tandem Productions, where she acquired her love for the limelight.
By Claire Schnatterbeck