Q&A: Becca Shapiro of Short North Stage

  • Photo by Tim Johnson
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From the May 24, 2012 edition

Becca Shapiro grew up performing in musicals in California. Her interest in the arts led her to a career with a Broadway theater company, but her love for her husband, Ohio native Josh Shapiro, brought her to Columbus. The two now co-own Wine on High, and Becca puts her theater knowledge to good use as a board member for fledgling theater company Short North Stage.

Josh and I met in New York. He’s from Wooster, Ohio. We were in New York for four or five years but decided to come back here. He had always wanted to own his own business, and we had always been interested in wine. We moved into The Jeffrey building nearby, and he found the shop online. A light bulb went off, and he moved forward from there.

He’s definitely the wine expert. I’m learning. I always learn more every time I come in here.

My degree is in communications and theater, and I worked for a Broadway theater company in New York for two and a half years, and then worked at ABC television.

The guys — Rick Gore and Peter Yockel — who are sort of the soul of Short North Stage, came in here to Wine on High because they needed some wine for an event. So Josh said, “Oh, you have to talk to my wife!” They connected with me. I live and work and play Short North, and to be involved in such an exciting new initiative that’s revitalizing the area, that’s bringing interest up north and bringing high-quality theatrical works to the area, it was just a really easy match.

The board of Short North Stage is different from a board you would sit on and open a checkbook and call it a day. There’s no staff really; there’s a couple of people on part-time staff there to help with the bar or help with production. But the board is essentially the staff. As a board member, I’m on the artistic committee. I’m helping pick the shows for next season. I’m on the development and membership committee, helping with fundraising. There’s so much that goes into it, and we’re all at the ground level making sure that there’s people there, spreading the word.

We have a mission statement — something to the effect of producing high-quality, professional theater emphasizing musicals and new works in the Short North Arts District.

We wanted a classic yet still gritty musical, we wanted a comedic play, we wanted something that was new and just something really powerful to anchor the season. We wanted to make sure the messages were cohesive, that there was an arc to the season. The 2012-13 season will be our first real season, so we’re kicking off with “Cabaret” in the fall. I’m excited to help with casting for some of the shows that we’re going to be doing.

There’s a ton of room for growth, and obviously we need a lot more grants and donations in terms of renovating the space. The Garden Theater is the second-oldest theater in Columbus after the Southern Theatre, and it’s been through a lot since the ’20s. It’s a big project, but it’s been going really well.