Behind the scenes at Orlando Shakespeare Theater

Getting To Know You: Jeff Ferree & Rob Jones

During my first few weeks as Orlando Shakes’ newest staff member, I noticed a big wall of photos that hangs in one of the hallways. Wanting to know more about it, I asked around and found out that the ‘Rob Jones Wall’ is a gallery of staff members, both past and present. I caught up with two members of our hard working Production Team: Jeff Ferree (Carpenter) and Rob Jones (Master Electrician). In addition to their behind-the-scenes work, the pair is also responsible for the Rob Jones Wall — Rob’s photographs are displayed in mismatched frames that Jeff paints and hangs, creating a nostalgic walk down memory lane for the seasoned employees and their co-workers.

Jeff Ferree (left) and Rob Jones (right) in front of the Rob Jones Wall, Lowndes Shakespeare Center

Jeff’s favorite Shakespeare play: Macbeth
Jeff’s favorite show seen at Orlando Shakes: Opus, Spring 2008
Jeff’s most anticipated show this season: The Taming of the Shrew

Jeff Ferree, who grew up in Winter Park, has lived in Orlando his whole life and jokes that he was “here before Disney”. Celebrating his 7th season at Orlando Shakes, he is also an active member of the theater community and an avid puppeteer. Six years ago Jeff saw a performance by Heather Henson, daughter of famous Muppet creator Jim Henson, and something just “clicked”.  You may have seen Jeff’s puppet show in the Orlando International Fringe Theater Festival, which he has participated in for the past four years. His most recent production (Three Amazing Thespians) was performed in his Cardboard Theater, a venue he constructed completely from cardboard. Jeff donated all proceeds from the show to The Mustard Seed of Central Florida, an Orlando-based charity which assists homeless families. His inspiration to put together the Rob Jones Wall is summed up in simple friendship. “Rob’s a good guy,” Jeff said. “I wanted to do it for him.”

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Rob’s favorite Shakespeare play: The Merchant of Venice
Rob’s favorite show seen at Orlando Shakes: Secret Garden, Fall 2007
Rob’s most anticipated show this season: Julius Caesar

Rob Jones has been a permanent Orlando Shakes staff member since 2002 and like his co-worker, has lived in Central Florida for most of his life. After receiving a Theater Production degree from Valencia College, he continued his education at North Carolina School of the Arts and majored in Technical Directing. During the 90’s he split up his time between contracted jobs at Orlando Shakes and Shakespeare & Co. in Lennox, Massachusetts, where he worked on his first Shakespeare production: Twelfth Night. Dealing with a difficult loss at that time, Rob related to the play’s message of hope and has been doing Shakespeare ever since. Besides lighting, he enjoys genealogy and photography, a hobby he does for fun, not money. When asked about the Rob Jones Wall, Rob said that he’s always taken pictures of his friends and realized he didn’t have any of his friends at Orlando Shakes. “So I brought my camera to work one day and it’s never left,” Rob said.

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One major trend that I’ve noticed in speaking with Orlando Shakes staff members? When asked what their favorite part of working here is, everyone has responded with “the people”. The Rob Jones Wall is a visual reminder of their camaraderie and shared passion for producing theater. I’ll get to know another face on the wall in my next segment of our Getting To Know You series. Stay tuned!

Shakespearely Yours,
Melissa Landy
Public Relations Coordinator, Orlando Shakespeare Theater

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