Everyday Hero: Dellinger wins Little Theatre volunteer of the year award
NATCHEZ — Lee Dellinger has played many roles in his life — college football player, U.S. Army National Guard soldier, student and Natchez Little Theatre actor, to name a few.
The 25-year-old Adams County Christian School graduate, who was honored last week as NLT’s Volunteer of the Year, said a series of strange events led him to the theater.
Dellinger was attending Belhaven University, where he played football, when he was deployed to Iraq with the National Guard. When he returned, Dellinger decided to move back to Natchez and attend Copiah-Lincoln Community College.
Dellinger enrolled in NLT Executive Director Layne Taylor’s theater class. Taylor’s students were required to participate in a play as part of the class, Dellinger played a minor role in NLT’s production of “Othello” in September 2011.
“And I’ve been there ever since,” he said.
Dellinger now serves as one of Taylor’s assistant directors and is stage manager for NLT’s upcoming production of “The Color Purple,” which opens Aug. 21.
“I pretty much do a little bit of everything,” he said.
Dellinger says his job as stage manager for “The Color Purple” has been made easier by the hard work of musical director Roderick Whitley and choreographer Alethea Shelton.
While being behind and in front of the curtain may seem like a lot, Dellinger said doing both makes him better at each role.
“It’s actually easier,” he said. “When you’re in the play, you get a sense of what is going on and that helps when changing sets.”
Dellinger will play a sheriff’s deputy in “The Color Purple,” but performing on stage is not something he has been doing for very long.
“I never did any kind of theater before NLT,” he said. “I was somewhat aware of NLT throughout high school, but the first time I ever set foot in the theater was for the first rehearsal of ‘Othello.’”
But he’s a natural, Taylor says, and a valuable member of the NLT family.
“That term family is the correct term for NLT; it is a big family,” Taylor said. “And we are a volunteer-based organization, and all of our volunteers are what makes the theater so successful.”
Dedicated and involved volunteers, such as Lee, are what make the theater work so well, Taylor said.
Dellinger, who is double majoring in history and English at Alcorn State University, said it was a honor to be recognized as Volunteer of the Year, but he is quick to give credit to other NLT volunteers.
“It’s not just me, Bo Allen and Morgan Mizell and others are up there as much as I am doing as much as I do,” he said. “It takes all of us pulling together to create something people want to see.”