By Brittany Worthington, Marketing Student Assistant
It’s one thing to be able to do the thing you love, but to do that thing with the person you love is a unique opportunity. Husband and wife team, Freddy Carnes and Olga Kasma-Carnes are lucky enough to do just that—both of them work for Texas Performing Arts, Freddy as a volunteer usher and Olga as a house manager. Their love story, fit for a Broadway musical, begins with their mutual love of the stage, and they shared it with me, fittingly, in the lobby of Bass Concert Hall.
Freddy majored in vocal performance at The University of Texas at Austin before turning to teaching and performing in local productions. But Freddy felt limited by the types of shows and roles he could audition for so he decided to form his own company focused on children’s theater. Later, he formed Freddy Carnes Productions, for which he also writes and performs. His work (for all ages now) emphasizes audience participation and using theater as an instrument for change. His latest productions have been a trio of musicals based on the Trojan War.
Olga's own odyssey into the world of theater came about when her son became involved in his high school theater program. Experiencing his love of performance sparked something in her. She not only wanted to enjoy musical theater from the audience, but help bring it to life. Soon she was volunteering and working as an usher, house manager, and as a member of the B. Iden Payne Committee, which "seeks to recognize outstanding theatrical performance, production and design in Austin." It wasn't long before this newfound passion brought another great love into her life.
Both Olga and Freddy worked at Zachary Scott Theatre (now known as ZACH Theatre) during the same period of time—he was an instructor and she worked backstage—but they never crossed paths. It wasn't until Olga answered a volunteer call to help Freddy cast one of his productions that the two finally met...and kept meeting. As part of the B. Iden Payne Committee, Olga attended some of Freddy’s productions. Amidst theater parties and running in many of the same creative and professional circles, their shared passion for the performing arts transformed into something more.
Freddy and Olga's relationship continued both on and off the stage. While Freddy played the shoemaker and Olga played his wife in a production of The Shoemaker and the Elves, the two were married in real-life in 2005.
Today, Freddy continues to produce plays and works for Creative Action, the largest Youth Arts Organization in Central Texas, while Olga spends her time working backstage and helping Freddy with his productions.
And both of them continue to work at Texas Performing Arts. "I enjoy everything about it," said Olga. "I enjoy the shows. I enjoy the meet-and-greets. I enjoy working with my volunteers. And the quality of shows that come here. I have such passion for theater I just love it. And I feel very fortunate to be able to do this. Theater is an art and sometimes people come in and see a show, it’s thought-provoking. They'll say, 'Gee, what do you think about this?' And they can discuss the play, talk about the characters, sometimes I think it opens up a new world for people."
The job is made all the sweeter by the fact that it brings Freddy and Olga together. "I love it when we get to work together and she’s the house manager and I'm the usher," Freddy said. "Even just coming here to the theater together and working a double show—an afternoon matinee and an evening show. And in-between we can get a bite to eat and just hang out for a little bit. We both share a passion for what we do."
Learn more about becoming a volunteer usher at texasperformingarts.org/get-involved/volunteer.