Feature: Terlouw to Take Talents to Florida's Busch Gardens

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A self-proclaimed theatrical “jack-of-all-trades,” KWU theatre standout Molly Terlouw will take her creative mind to Florida in August, when she begins a contract position as an entertainment technician in Tampa Bay’s Busch Gardens Theme Park.

Busch Gardens, a safari and zoo-themed branch of SeaWorld, will provide Terlouw the opportunity to work on various shows in its 14 theatres and outdoor venues. Like many beginners in her field, she was offered a probationary contract with the company which will be up for renewal in February 2022. 

“There’s pressure with the contract to perform well enough for them to keep me,” said Terlouw. “That will allow me to grow creatively, while still taking risks to prove that I can be worthy of remaining.”

During her time with the company, Terlouw will be assigned a variety of tasks. Her first will be as operator of a follow-light in Stanleyville Theatre. Moving forward, she will handle additional lighting, audio, visuals, props, pyrotechnics and stage rigging. 

She learned many of these skills while working with KWU’s Theatre Department and the Salina Community Theatre. Between the two organizations, she took part in 13 shows, working as either stage manager or a member of the stage crew during her college years. 

Despite spending her high school education intent upon pursuing a career as a stage lighting crew member, Terlouw was inspired by KWU’s Professor Karen Babcock Brassea to embrace a bigger dream.

“Karen talked me into stage management, and I think that was the best thing she could have ever done for me my freshman year,” Terlouw said. “I’ve learned lots of different disciplines.” 

Instead of working lights exclusively, she learned how to design sets and props, as well as how to work with sound and light design on stage.

During the last year, Terlouw acted as stage manager for two shows she cited as being some of the most challenging of her career thus far. Performed at the Salina Community Theatre, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” as well as “Little Women: The Musical” both took place under COVID-19 protocols, which included downsizing the number of people behind-the-scenes. 

“Because we were a limited crew, I was one of the four quick-changers in a ‘Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,’” she said. 

This meant changing an actor from one full outfit to another, sometimes in less than 25 seconds. To make matters more challenging, they did so within the constraints of a recording, rather than having the advantage of a live orchestra controlling the music’s tempo. 

“There were a couple times we didn’t make it,” Terlouw said. “It was a grueling pace.”

Not long after, a smaller crew size made the production of “Little Women: The Musical” equally strenuous.

“We had to move the entire March house by ourselves,” she said. “It was so heavy, but we had to get it done within timing of the show’s tracks.

“Both shows taught me a lot about timing and coordinating people. I got pretty quick on my feet.”

Continuing her career at Busch Gardens following her probationary period is the next goal on Terlouw’s list. 

“It all comes down to: are you creative enough? Driven enough? And are you able to maintain the caliber of performance that many people around the world have? That underlying challenge is going to push me to perform my best at every single moment.”