The Passion Of Richard Parison
There probably aren’t too many kids who would say that when they grow up they want to be the executive director of CenterStage.
But it seems like a logical progression for Richard Parison, the man who refers to himself as “Sort of a steward of the mission and vision of CenterStage as envisioned by the founders ten years ago when it was created.”
Being a catalyst for arts in the community and implementing that mission makes perfect sense for a guy who has been involved in the theater his entire life.
“What I love about the performing arts is their amazing ability to touch us as individuals. I love the arts as a transformative experience. Someone can come to the theater and sit in their seat and have everything that happened that week disappear. I love that people can have that.”
Not surprisingly, it was Parison’s work as a director that led him to CenterStage.
“That drives everything I do. As an administrator, you have to be a collaborator and a consensus builder. It’s the same with directing.”
And if he weren’t in the theater? “I’d probably be in politics. I love politics as theater and I don’t like theater as politics.” His distinction is clear.
When he’s not working the long hours of an administrator, he loves to travel. “I’m a big foodie. I have to go to the gym and use a trainer to counteract my foodie side. I love to explore the diverse restaurant scene here in Richmond.
I love sitting at the bar at Lemaire with those comfy bar stools. They have a great happy hour. And I love eating at Aziza’s on Main and Comfort. Last week I took Patti LaBelle to Comfort and she loved it.”
But Parison enjoys more than just fine food and drink.
“I’m getting back into tennis which I played in high school. Getting back into that is fun. And I love sitting on my balcony overlooking the James River and the rapids. It’s so calming. I’m a Cancer, so I’m a bit of a water baby. Living over the river is soothing.”
He acknowledges that moving to Richmond in his forties is different than when he moved as a twenty-something. “You have your personality more settled. I’m fortunate to have found a great social community.”
The recent come-here has plenty of praise for Richmond as well as some constructive criticism.
“I love the convergence of culture and nature here. We have that amazing river ecosystem right at our door plus art and cultural institutions as long as we can forward look to the future.
“History is such an important tourism item, but the arts must look forward or we die.
“I see a reticence on the city’s part to move forward from the historical point of view. The city is more than the Civil War. They could take a page from the arts organizations. Theater, symphony and ballet have such passion and fire in their bellies.”
Talking to Parison, it’s hard to imagine him as anything other than what he is but when asked what he’d like to be in another life, he quickly says a virtuoso pianist.
“Playing piano is something I have such appreciation for. I admire things about people that I can’t do. Interpreting music on a piano is transcendental. I always wanted to sit down at a piano and let that music flow out of me.
“So I’d like to be a virtuosos pianist who could play everything from show tunes to classical music. Or maybe a leading man on Broadway singing. I could be the first completely out leading man.”
Either possibility seems likely given that Parison says the arts are in every fiber of his being.
“Even if you’ve been reincarnated, you’re going to want to be something that you’re passionate about,” he says with absolute assurance…and passion.
Karen Newton is a freelance writer and full-time nerd who isn’t happy unless she’s going out every night for food, music or art and blogging it at www.icouldgoonandon.blogspot.com.
Richmond’s performing arts venue Richmond Centerstage announced today on its website it received a $5.5 million grant from Dominion Resources tol be used for “ongoing operation, maintenance and physical improvement to the facility.” The 87-year-old East Grace Street venue, which encompasses The 1,800-seat Carpenter Theatre, the multi-use space Rhythm Hall; the Libby S. Gottwald Playhouse; and the [...]December 15, 2015
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