By Steve Holt, Staff Writer
Kendall Massey is a lot like Thomas Jefferson-at least in his own mind.
Massey, who was hired as the director of student productions in August, said his leadership style resembles Jefferson’s in that he has surrounded himself with a “cabinet” of assistants to fulfill one of the campus’ most stressful positions.
“The most intelligent thing [Jefferson] did was surround himself with people who were smarter than he was and making himself a better president,” said Massey, who will oversee the production of Freshman Follies in October and Sing Song in February. “He was the person who invented the Cabinet-having people around you to do things that were better than you. For the students on campus that want to further themselves by having a real world experience on the campus, this is the best place to do that.”
Among numerous volunteers for Massey, two of the permanent assistants are Katey Earles, senior marketing major from Abilene, and Darren Curry, junior marketing major from Oklahoma City. Earles, who has worked with student productions since she was a freshman, said Massey was a natural choice for the director position.
“He was a fabulous Sing Song host,” Earles said. “He also has been running a small business for the past five years, so he knows the business aspect of it too. He definitely has both sides down, so that helps those of us who have always worked on the business side of it because he actually can be more of a director in that aspect.”
Massey’s first project in his new position is Freshman Follies, a variety show done completely by freshman. Preparations have been underway for about a week for the show, which will be performed five times Oct. 3-4.
The 1996 ACU graduate said response for participation in the show has been positive so far.
“I believe every floor is doing something,” Massey said.
He added that the market audience for Follies is prospective students and parents, as opposed to Sing Song’s market audience, any member of the Abilene or ACU community. Massey would like to see Follies given more emphasis at ACU.
“I really want to see Follies become an event in its own right that demands attention,” Massey said. “I think there are a lot of areas and ways that it can be a unique campus experience.”
To do that, Massey said he hopes to move “forward and backward at the same time.”
“I think there are things that need to be built upon, and I also think there are things that need to be returned to,” he said.
A Sing Song host in 1995, Massey has worked with nearly every February show since then. While a student, he directed the Frater Sodalis act in 1996, and then filled numerous behind-the-scenes rolls since graduating.
Massey applied for the position of director of student productions in March after former director Phyllis Wilson expressed her intention to leave the university to pursue a graduate degree. He was offered the job in August, and he said he began “working” almost immediately.
“I was happy, and literally about 30 minutes later, I realized what amount of work I had to do,” Massey said. “I actually made business calls that Friday; I wasn’t actually on the job yet. I knew I had a lot to do in a relatively short amount of time-reality set in pretty quickly.”
Zane Nieland, freshman biology major from Odessa, will participate in Follies with Mabee 3rd North. He is looking forward to the experience.
“I’m looking forward to meeting a whole lot of new people, and also it’s going to be fun,” Nieland said.
Some freshmen are fuzzy about the show’s whole concept, however.
“I’m hoping it’s going to be real fun since they’re letting us put so much effort into it,” said Brithney Gardner, freshman English major from DeSoto, who will perform with Gardner 3rd North. “But I’m not really understanding what it is.”
To find out more about next month’s show, visit http://freshmanfollies.com.