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COCA Spotlight: Mike Herrin “History gets ‘Salty’ at Monticello Opera House”

By: Amanda Sieradzki, COCA | May 14, 2018

A Quincy native, Mike Herrin feels at home in Monticello, and finds joy in discovering the unique characteristics of the community. Stepping into the role of Executive Director of the Monticello Opera House this past year, he feels he’s learned a lot about the town and its needs, especially during the curation of the upcoming performance season.

The Opera House’s murder mystery show is one such unique offering on the bill. Weekends in May will feature “Murd-ARRR: Pirates of the Salty Dog,” utilizing the venue’s expansive dining room.

Audiences can pull up a chair at the Salty Dog tavern to be served by pirates, bear witness to pillaging, plundering, sword-fighting hijinks, and solve a whodunit over a three-course meal. Herrin, who took part as an actor in a previous murder mystery dinner theater, hopes for more fun evenings and invites attendees to dress the part.

“They just are a great let your hair down good time,” says Herrin. “People just love the lightheartedness of the shows and being part of the action.”

Herrin not only considers audience appeal when it comes to choosing shows, but also the social consciousness and inherent value to patrons. He wants to expand the possibilities for programming, and dream up ways to beautify the venue and make it even more historically accurate.

His appreciation for preserving the past comes from his previous title as Director of Facilities and Horticulture at Tallahassee’s Goodwood Museum. While working at the museum, he began flexing his acting skills as a Historic Florida Tour Guide.

For annual ghost tours, Herrin often embodied vibrant political figure, Senator William C. Hodges, who was a former owner of the Goodwood estate. The position allowed him to combine his passions for historic preservation and storytelling, while also interacting with visitors.

“I found that it really widened my horizons and exposed me to new experiences and new ways of thinking,” says Herrin. “It really changed my life and ultimately resulted in a change of career.”

Herrin first dipped his toe into acting during the filming of “Recount” in Tallahassee in 2008. He was cast as an extra, and after thoroughly enjoying his time on set, auditioned to be in casts for the FSU film school where he took part in several movies.

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