Behind The Curtain: Casey Visser, The Heart and Soul of Billings Studio Theatre

June 29, 2024

Article by Brooke Wagner

Photos courtesy of Billings Studio Theatre

           If “all the world’s a stage,” then life is akin to a theatrical performance, with every person playing their role to perfection. One Billings man plays his role exceptionally well, as his love for theater transcends mere appreciation—it defines his existence. Meet Casey Visser, a charismatic soul whose life revolves around the magic of the stage. A former history teacher in School District 2, Visser is taking on a new role as Artistic Director at Billings Studio Theatre. He has been featured in shows at BST since 1995, performing everything from Shakespeare to Beauty and The Beast. We sat down with Visser to learn more about where his passion comes from and where it is taking him.

Q: What’s your background, and how did you connect with Billings Studio Theatre?

A: I grew up in Billings and then attended college at MSU. In high school at West, during my freshman year, I signed up for a drama class I wanted to drop after the first week of school! My mother pretty much let me do as I pleased back then, but she made me stay in that class...mother's intuition. Thanks, Mom! My first BST show was in 1995, the year after I graduated. I have been heavily involved with the theater since 2005. I am so excited to partner with Nancy Wollenburg (as managing director) and the whole team to help lead BST in the future.

Q: What are you most excited about for the upcoming season?

A: I am most excited about the diversity of programming that we will offer this upcoming season. There is truly something for everyone! From "Waitress," which is hot off-Broadway, to "Clue," "Escape from Margaritaville," and so many shows in between. This season will push us artistically in a very good way.

Q: Your background is in education. How will your history as an educator help you transition into your new role at BST?

A: I think my background as an educator will serve me well in this new role as Artistic Director. I received a card from one of my old teachers when I got the job, and she said she suspected I used my acting abilities all the time in my teaching career and that she feels I will use my teaching abilities in my role here with BST. I think in both arenas, one needs to put people first! One of our huge goals at the theater is to bring people together. Less drama, more theater!

Q: How do you see the arts influencing the lives of Billings students, families, and community members?

A: To me, the arts allow people to understand what the human condition is truly all about. Theatre holds up a mirror to society so we can see where we are, where we have been, and maybe where we are going. It gives people a safe space to create and not be judged if they view things differently than the "mainstream." For me, it has been my passion and my hobby for all these years, and now it is my job!

               Beyond the technical aspects, Visser revels in the camaraderie of the theater community. “Community theater is made up of two words, and they are both supremely important!” he says warmly. “The thing I love the most is that it takes a true community to put a show together. No one is more or less important than anyone else. Without everyone's contribution, the show would not be what it is. I love theater, but the community aspect is magical.” Visser also states that one of his main goals is to bring people back to Billings Studio Theatre who may have been involved in the past, whether they be audience members, performers, or backstage experts. He says, “Please, even if you have lived here your entire life and have never seen a show, give us a chance to entertain you!”. In a world often divided, theater has an incredible power to unite us through shared experiences. With Casey Visser at the helm, Billings Studio Theatre is undoubtedly headed in a direction worthy of the spotlight.

BST is located at 1500 Rimrock Road (on the Rocky Mountain College campus). Their phone number is 248-1141. The box office is closed for the summer, but they will return with "Waitress" in the fall!

Never miss an issue, check out SLM's digital editions here!  

related articles: 

Get local updates, events and special offers!

Local Events