Eric Mansfield talks theater and family

Meghan Caprez

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Kent State University’s executive director for university media relations performed in a

white jumpsuit, sequins and sideburns on the Weathervane Playhouse stage.

Eric Mansfield has been involved with theater since he was in elementary school. “I

think I was a tree in a play when I was in first grade,” he said, laughing at the memory.

After that, Mansfield typically stayed off the stage. Instead, he played in the pit orchestra

in high school. He is trained on the baritone, trombone, violin and acoustic guitar,

Mansfield said. His wife, Lisa, also played in the orchestra in high school, where the two

first started dating.

Having recently celebrated their 21st wedding anniversary, the Mansfields have three

sons: 17-year-old Josh, 14-year-old Jake and 11-year-old Teddy.

After the boys were born, Lisa served as a stay-at-home mom for 12 years before

returning to work. September 2006, when Teddy was at school full-time, Lisa began

working at Weathervane Playhouse as the Patron Services Manager, Lisa said.

That winter, Josh auditioned for the playhouse’s annual Young Actors Series production

of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

“One of our kids has been in ‘Joseph’ ever since,” Mansfield said. “For seven years

running, you couldn’t have gone to see ‘Joseph’ without seeing one of our kids up


The kids weren’t the only ones on the stage, though. Mansfield himself auditioned and

won the role of Jacob, Joseph’s father, in 2007. In 2008, Mansfield received both adult

roles in the show: Jacob and the pharaoh.

“He loved the pharaoh,” said Sarah Bailey, director of “Joseph” at Weathervane. “I think

it was fun. He got to come out of his shell. Jacob is fun because he gets to walk around

[and] stuff, but he doesn’t get to perform as much as Pharaoh.”

Mansfield said it wasn’t difficult to act, since he’d been used to being on camera as a

news anchor for Channel 3 News.

“I’ve been on network television doing reports in front of a million people, but you don’t

see any of them,” Mansfield said. “They’re just looking at you through TV. Going up

there live in front of maybe 250 people is a great rush.”

Mansfield only returned to the stage to experience acting with his children, though. In

2007, Josh returned to “Joseph,” and in 2008, Jake received the role as the youngest

brother in the show.

Mansfield and Jake weren’t the only two of their family involved in the show that year,


“Everybody was involved,” Bailey said. “Jake was in the show, Josh was working

backstage, Lisa was working in the box office, Teddy was in the children’s choir. I think

every single person in that family was here doing ‘Joseph.’”

Jake said he found it a little odd seeing his dad on stage with him, but he enjoyed the


“It was weird to see him at home, being a dad and cooking dinner and playing with us,

to being in a white jumpsuit with sequins and singing with an Elvis impression,” Jake

said. “It’s quite a shift, but it was cool. He got to look out for me while I was in the show.”

While looking out for his son, Mansfield said he tried not to be too overbearing.

“When I was in ‘Joseph’ and I was the only adult in the cast, I knew my role,” Mansfield

said. “In the dressing room, the boys are talking like a bunch of teenage boys, so I just

kind of went up there, changed clothes and got out of there to let them be boys. At the

same time, it’s very cool to interact with them.”

Even though Jake never returned to the Weathervane stage in a musical, both he and

Josh continue to help backstage. Jake said he is currently helping design the light and

sound for the theater’s production of “Annie.”

While his brothers have focused their talents backstage, Teddy continues to thrive in the

spotlight, Mansfield said. Teddy most recently performed in the ensemble of “Hairspray”

at the Akron Civic Theatre and as Edgar in Kent State’s production of “Ragtime.”

“At 11 years of age, he’s already performed at the Civic Theatre, Weathervane, Kent

State,” Mansfield said. “He performed with Hal Linden — he guy from Barney Miller — a

guy who won a Tony on Broadway. Because he did a good job, because he’s dedicated

and of course because he’s got some talent, he’s already been cast in all these different

shows in all these different theaters.”

It is because of Teddy’s interest and dedication to theater that Mansfield believes he’ll

be able to perform again. He said if Teddy were to try out for a role as one of the 12

brothers in “Joseph,” he’d definitely consider auditioning again.

“He’ll have to battle it out with our current Jacob, but I think Pharaoh’s probably his if he

wants it,” Bailey said.

Mansfield said he would also be interested in joining the pit orchestra, and he’d like to

try his hand at writing for the stage.

“Being a journalist for 20 years, I’ve come across so many story lines,” Mansfield

said. “I’ve interviewed people at their high and at their low. I’ve interviewed people who

have been through unbelievable journeys. Some of that lends itself to real creativity for

stage productions.”

Whether he auditions for another show or not, theater will always be a Mansfield family

affair, Lisa said.

“When someone’s in a show, people work backstage to help out, especially with the

youth shows,” Lisa said. “There were shows when Teddy was in the audience, I was

in the box office, both big boys were working backstage or onstage and Eric was

backstage or onstage. It’s a fun way to spend time together, that’s for sure.”

Contact Meghan Caprez at [email protected].