Coffee-fueled Magic: An Interview with Chris Luner

“I really do see myself in the long run focusing in children’s theater and being able to give back to kids.”

I believe the best way to summarize Chris Luner is with the following hash tag: #SleepLater. Chris Luner is the production manager of Children’s Theater, the stage manager for “Shrek the Musical” and the resident Master of Ceremonies of Summer Stage. Chris spends his entire day at the UDPAC; from 8:30AM until 11:00PM, Chris is working hard to make the magic of Summer Stage a possibility for every child. Even when he gets home at 11 at night, Chris stays up until 2 in the morning working on rehearsal reports.

A production manager is, in the words of Chris, “Someone who basically oversees the production, from the needs of the creative staff to the technical needs…making sure we are all on schedule so when we get to tech day, everything’s finished and the production can go on as a whole.”

Every Thursday Chris breaks out all the stops for the Summer Stage general meeting. He works as the MC of the event, bringing energy and enthusiasm to what could be a humdrum reading of announcements. Unbeknownst to most of Summer Stage, Chris has crippling stage fright. “I love being on stage and performing but before every general meeting I almost throw up I’m so nervous. The same thing happens before the Harry Awards. I’m so gut wrenchingly nervous I’m at the point of almost getting sick which is really weird. Once I get out there I’m all about it and I’m going with the flow but beforehand I can’t even talk to people. Mrs. Dryden has to talk me down every year beforehand.”

That’s Chris’ role during the day. Once Children’s Theater ends, his role shifts to stage management for “Shrek the Musical.” Chris had some misgivings about the show as a whole earlier in the year. “I’m not going to lie. I wasn’t a fan of Shrek and I kind of agreed to do it because I knew Dawn [Morningstar] was working on it. But now I’m a HUGE fan of the production. Dawn has a great way of doing story telling which I think a lot of productions of Shrek lose and I think that’s something our production of Shrek has.”

When the leaves start to transform and drift to the ground, Chris will pick up and move to New York City. During the fall and winter Chris works in the city as a freelance stage manager. His next big project will be stage managing “Hello Dolly” at his alma mater, Wagner College. A recent graduate, Chris majored in arts administration there in 2013.

Growing up with Summer Stage has deeply impacted Chris. “Starting at Summer Stage is why I majored in arts administration, because I was really inspired by what Mr. Dietzler did here and I really…I mean as much as I’m interested in doing professional theater and Broadway, just like everyone else is, I really do see myself in the long run focusing in children’s theater and being able to give back to kids.”

Chris’ dedication to the program as a whole is just astounding. He often doesn’t eat throughout his entire day at Summer Stage. This master of organization seems to live off of coffee and helping other people have the time of their lives. We are incredibly fortunate to have Chris Luner here at Upper Darby and it just would not be the same without him.

“There is genuinely no like place on earth like Summer Stage.”

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