MEET ADAM STOLTE
NOTE: As we look to reopen our doors and reignite the arts, one thing becomes clear: The key to our creativity is our people. Songs are not sung, sets are not built, choreography is not taught, and canvases are not painted on their own. In our ongoing “Humans of the Arvada Center” series, we are highlighting the heartbeat of the Center: The people who make up the Arvada Center family.
By John Moore and Leslie Siimon
In many ways, Arvada Center Production Manager Adam Stolte has lived the idyllic Arvada life since childhood. He met all five of his still-best friends between the ages of 6 and 12. All of them are, in some ways, fellow artists. Even, he says, the engineer and the attorney.
“We have all shared a lifetime of creativity and expression, and we still communicate with one another after 41 years,” Adam said. “I cherished my relationships with them when we were children, and we continue to value our relationships today.”
Adam grew up in an arts-friendly family where everyone was encouraged to pursue whatever passion they had. His father, Bob, was an architect by day “and an amazing artist by night,” he said. His mother, Barbara, still works in sales and marketing “and she has been the strength in our family.” Together, Bob and Barbara had four boys 18 years apart: Eric, Josh, Adam and Matthew. Adam describes his brothers as “artists, entertainers and philosophers.” Josh is a 5th-grade teacher at West Woods Elementary School in Arvada. Matthew is a Doctor of Philosophy.
“From a very young age, I was energetic and rambunctious, with a constant need for activity,” Adam said. “I started playing soccer and wrestling when I was 6 years old. These activities allowed me to express myself and use all of the energy of a young child with the need to be active.”
At that same age, Adam was cast in his first play, “I Am an American,” at Secrest Elementary School in Arvada. “I played the role of George Washington and cut down the cherry tree,” he still says with pride. He credits his director and teacher, Lois Lindstrom, for helping to foster his lifelong passion to learn and share stories.
“While I did not possess the drawing or painting skills of the rest of my family, I did learn at an early age how to build, use my hands and share art in different media,” he said. “These skills have afforded me the opportunity to be a part of theatre and a proud member of the Arvada Center for much of the past 23 years.”
Adam Stolte (center) still counts his 6-year-old castmate, John Santangelo (over his shoulder)' as among his closest friends.
Adam graduated from Arvada High School In 1991, where both of his parents attended before him, and went on to study theatre at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling and the University of Wyoming, where he learned under the legendary Rebecca Hilliker (she is interviewed in "The Laramie Project.") He was first hired at the Arvada Center a year after his graduation in 1996, and in 2003 he married Darci, with whom they have a 14-year-old son, Jackson.
“I am so thankful to have both of them in my life, and I am always honored and humbled by their love and support,” he said.
'The loss of my brother was devastating and made me question what I wanted to do – until I realized that I could continue the passion of theatre for both of us.'
But Adam’s idyllic Arvada timeline was shattered in 1994, when he was 21 years old.
“That’s when we discovered that my oldest brother, Eric, was diagnosed with AIDS, and he passed away four months later,” Adam said. “I had grown very close to my brother through shared interests and the need to express ourselves through art and entertainment. He was my mentor at the time. I shared with him my life experience, and he encouraged me to pursue my passion of theatre.”
Adam was in McAlester, Oklahoma, with a traveling theatre production at the time, and not being with Eric was difficult for him. “The loss of my brother was devastating and made me question what I wanted to do – until I realized that I could continue the passion of theatre for both of us,” Adam said. “He still inspires me and guides me through difficult times and helps me celebrate successes.”
Adam was working out of an Arvada shoe store in 1997 when Mickey McVey, then the Arvada Center’s Education Director, told Artistic Director of Musicals Rod Lansberry he should bring Adam on staff - somewhere. "Adam had a theatre education but not a lot of theatre experience, so he was very green," said Rod, who did bring Adam on, as a spotlight operator. For the next few years, Adam worked in lighting, props and as a scenic carpenter. He left for two years for a similar job at the Denver Center, “but I continued working at the Arvada Center as a part-timer for many years,” he said.
In 2006, he was offered the considerable position as the Arvada Center's Technical Manager, a title that changed to Production Manager a few years later.
A Production Manager coordinates all technical aspects of any play or musical. He manages the heads of the scenic, costume, lighting, sound, properties and video departments. And the other side of his brain is needed to oversee the budgeting, scheduling and safety needs of all technical operations. As Rod puts it: “Adam’s main duty is to make sure the production runs smoothly and accomplishes what the director needs.”
Rod considers having a Production Manager whose roots begin just blocks from the Arvada Center to be a huge advantage “because Adam knows everyone in town,” he said. “He has direct connections to people in the school system, at the city and throughout the greater theatre community, which has paved the way for many successful collaborations through the years.”
What impresses Rod most about Adam is his ability to learn new skills and adapt to changing technologies, which is essential in the rapidly evolving world of technical theatre.
“Adam takes a lot of pride and takes great enjoyment out of learning new things,” Rod said. “But I think what I have come to rely on from Adam most is that he will be honest with me and tell me when something is not working. I depend on him for that."
'Arvada has a rich history, and I am proud to be a small part of that history.'
Having a lifelong artistic home in his hometown has afforded Adam with a career opportunity that is rare in the professional theatre. “I have been a patron of the Arvada Center since it opened in 1975,” he said. “Many of our patrons and volunteers have been big parts of other times my life: Former childhood teachers; church members; my soccer coach and Cub Scout leader; my parents’ colleagues; my brother’s students, and my peers and their families. These are the same people who helped guide me as a child and created the framework for who I am and what I do.
“Arvada has a rich history, and I am proud to be a small part of that history by telling stories and sharing experiences that bring the community together."
Contact John Moore at email@example.com
Adam Stolte, with son Jackson and wife Darci, is Arvada born and bred
To learn more about Arvada Center theatre programming, go to arvadacenter.org/theatre
To follow the Arvada Center's #HumansOfArvadaCenter campaign, go to instagram.com