|Melissa Wyckoff named Executive Producer for JCPRD's The Theatre in the Park|
Melissa Wyckoff has been named the new Fine and Cultural Arts Manager for the Johnson County Park and Recreation District where her duties will also include serving as Executive Producer for The Theatre in the Park. She steps into her new position as on Jan. 2.
Taking the position marks a return to the Kansas City metro area for Wyckoff, who is a native of the area and was interested in moving back here to be closer to her family after working for several years in Florida and Washington state. She brings experience in business, as an arts executive, and as a performer.
"I was looking for an opportunity to come back to Kansas City and to Johnson County," Wyckoff said. "My experiences when I performed here were wonderful and are happy memories of my childhood and the opportunity to make sure other children get to do that, I think, is a wonderful thing. It was an important experience because it gave you an opportunity to try it and to see if you liked performing. It's such a great experience for people to learn more about it and then go on from there. I met friends that I still have doing that. The other thing I like is that it costs less than going to the movies. That's what's so great about Kansas City - there's not only so much professional arts, there's all the community arts which are so strong."
The performing bug struck early for Wyckoff, who was a member of the local Jack and Jill Players, a youth tap and jazz dancing group, when she was five and later appeared as a doll in a televised local Christmas show. As a child, she played the character Amaryllis in the Music Man during The Theater in the Park's very first season in 1970. She later appeared in Theatre in the Park productions of Oliver and Most Happy Fella, at which time she worked with longtime Producer Demmaree Carns. But it was a Hollywood Bowl performance of Swan Lake she attended during a family trip to California which cemented her interest in the arts.
"I was transfixed and I turned to my mom and said 'momma I want to be a ballerina' and she said, yeah, OK, OK," Wyckoff said.
This dream was later realized after the director of a Starlight Theater production of Superman which she appeared in referred her to a ballet teacher. After graduating from Shawnee Mission South High School, she would go on to receive a scholarship to the University of Missouri - Kansas City's Conservatory of Music, where she performed at the Missouri Repertory Theater and earned a bachelor of arts in dance.
Her work experience includes serving as: chief executive officer of the Walla Walla Symphony in Walla Walla, Wash.; executive director of The Florida Chautaqua Center in DeFuniak Springs, Fla.; marketing and public relations director for the Southwest Florida Symphony in Fort Myers, Fla; and as marketing and public relations director of the J. Howard Wood
Theatre in Sanibel Island, Fla. She earlier gained international business and marketing experience as marketing specialist for Sega Inc. of Overland Park.
In addition, she has been involved with a number of organizations including the Junior League of Kansas City, the American Symphony Orchestra League, the Junior Women's Symphony Association and the American Marketing Association.
As to first-year goals, Wyckoff said she hopes to seek new sponsors, build additional partnerships, and implement new marketing ideas
"My other goal is to meet people here in town and I want to make sure we work collaboratively with other theaters and the others arts groups in town," she said. "Instead of looking at each other as competition, it helps everybody if we work together and work collaboratively."
Wyckoff was selected for the position from more than 30 applicants. She succeeds Michael Musick, who left the park district in September.