Behind the Scenes: Rolf Buchner

Posted by Alex Caldas on 15 February 2013 | 0 Comments

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Theatre Manager Monica Price with Rolf Buchner 


Rolf Buchner, 93, has been volunteering at The Stanley for almost three decades.

“I was just talking to one of the volunteers about this. It is something like 28, 29 years.”

Rolf said that his time at The Stanley has been filled with a variety of experiences, including talking to singer Tony Bennett.

“Because he sings a song about San Francisco, most people believe he came from California,” he said. “However, he and I both lived in Astoria, Queens. When I was a young man and he was a bit younger than I, I saw him perform in a nightclub in that area. So, I knew of him when he was starting out. When he was here, I asked the theater manager if I could go backstage and say hello to him. He was kind of shocked to find there was someone from Astoria, Queens who knew him as a young man. We chatted a little bit. To me, that’s a favorite memory because I was able to meet someone from my own area in Utica, N.Y.”

  Rolf moved to Utica 43 years ago for work. At the time, he was working for a union that was responsible for telephone installation and telephone line maintenance. Rolf was sent to Utica to organize an effort to organize telephone operators.

            “They sent me up here and gave me a telephone number and said, ‘If you have a problem, call this telephone number and we will send someone to help you.’”

            One of the people who was sent to help would end up becoming his wife.

            Jane, Rolf’s wife, is also a volunteer at The Stanley. Among other duties, they are both tour guides. Rolf said that Jane’s tour is very informative.

            “I always like to tell people, if you go on a tour with me, mine is kind of a fun tour,” he said. “I like to add a little comedy or relief to it.”

            Rolf loves volunteering at The Stanley; helping those who come to The Stanley, whether it be showing them where to go or sharing his knowledge of the building himself, brings him joy.

            “The Stanley is a wonderful place to come to offer your services because when you do, the people who come are in a good mood to see something and when they leave the performances, they are exhilarated,” he said. “It’s a pleasant evening, meeting the public. You feel like you’re doing something because of your knowledge of the seating or your knowledge at the door. I’ve had the pleasure of doing every position there is at this place, whether it be selling things for a vendor, whether it’s been at the door to greet the people and take their ticket and assign them to the proper aisle, or whether I was a captain of the aisle and helped my ushers seat the people in the proper location.”

            Rolf has a soft spot in his heart for the children’s performances at The Stanley. He played a vital role in revamping the bus numbering system used to get the children back on their buses in an orderly and safe manner. Rolf has not missed a single children’s show since that system was put into place. 

“This has extended my life, seriously. I’m 93 now. It’s a record at my age now… I enjoy doing it.”