- Associated Press - Friday, February 28, 2014

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) - With more than three decades of experience in the arts, Randal West is looking forward to his next challenge - operating the C.L. Hoover Opera House. As the interim executive director of the facility, the upcoming weeks are going to be busy for West as he juggles meetings with organizations and city officials.

“I want to know how people feel about the building,” he said. “There’s a lot of people excited about what can happen here.”

The search for the next leader of the Opera House began after Mary Louise Stahl announced her retirement effective Dec. 31, 2013. Through his background in marketing and administration, he’s looking forward to picking up the mantle of a facility which plays a major role in the city’s cultural landscape, The Junction City Daily Union reported (http://bit.ly/1hKcMyf ).

“It’s going to be a big challenge and it’s going to take a lot of people getting on board to make this happen,” he said. “I don’t underestimate the challenge that’s here. There’s a lot of coordinating to do for making sure everyone’s voices are heard.”

West’s first day at the Opera House was Feb. 17.

“It’s been a whole week of meeting people who have a interest in the Opera House,” West said about crafting a vision. “I don’t believe that an executive director should come in and dictate a vision to a building or a company.”

Currently, he’s examining where the Opera House does well and improving other functions.

“I’m in the process of looking at what’s not being done in Junction City and what we can do,” he said. “Is there something that we can add to the Opera House that would be an addition culturally, that’s not being done by someone else?”

After the vacant position was offered, West jumped on the opportunity and began two weeks later. Most recently, he served as the Executive/Artistic Director of Way Off Broad, Iowa’s only professional musical theatre company.

“My energy is full speed ahead to get everything going here,” he said.

Although West recently began his duties at the Opera House, he is not officially settled in. West recently made a trip to Iowa to pack up more stuff.

“It’s a been a whirlwind,” he said about moving to the Flint Hills.

West’s wife is Margaret and together, they have three sons, Gareth, William, and Joshua. Margaret also sings professionally.

“I dragged her into musical theatre screaming and yelling,” he said. “She’s going to come here and teach voice.”

Gareth is attending Junction City High School. William wants to be a creative director for video games.

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