Artist of the Month - May 2018
Written By Jim T. Gammill
Arts Council Menifee
Larry Sichter was born in Sheboygan, Wisconsin to a Navy family. When he was very young the family moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, where they remained until Larry was nearing the end of elementary school. It was around this time that Larry’s father got orders to Karamusel, Turkey and the Sichter family was off on their first adventure abroad. A few years later, the family would be transferred to Kenitra, Morocco where Larry and his identical twin brother attended middle school and the first year or so of high school.
It was in his elementary school years that Sichter had very formative encounters with theater and media entertainment, two aspects that would have a profound effect on both his professional and personal life. In 2nd grade, Larry was selected as the second goat in a stage play version of Billy Goat’s Gruff. In the following year, Sichter’s class was selected to be on a local television program in which a story was read to the class to show the station’s involvement in local education.
“I’ll never forget the wonder of being in a TV studio. Everyone else was looking at the teacher and I was gazing around at the lights and cameras,” Sichter reflects.
Sichter also performed in theatrical productions in both middle school and high school.
“I’ve always migrated towards the dramatic. In middle school, to avoid writing a paper, my mates and I reenacted the start of the First World War…complete with homemade Austrian/Serbian costumes,” the actor recalls.
Shortly after beginning high school in Morocco, the Sichter family was sent to the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Larry attended and graduated from Campbell high school in Ewa Beach where Larry was active in both theater and the school’s debate team. He appeared in Edward Albee's The Sandbox in his junior year and the musical comedy, The Pajama Game in his senior year. When he wasn’t performing on stage, he was oftentimes in front of a panel of judges with the school’s debate team, which almost made it to the state finals.
Immediately following high school, Larry attended the Manoa campus of the University of Hawaii where he received a BA in Communications with a minor in drama. Drama was an especially big part of Sichter’s college career when he was trying to decide on a major. His director at the time was Glenn Cannon, who had a long Hollywood career including a major role on Hawaii Five-O in the 1970’s. Under Cannon’s direction, Larry performed in The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel and was stage manager in A Three Penny Opera.
It so happened that Sichter’s passion for the performing arts would direct him toward what would become his professional career. One of the lighting technicians at the theater also worked at PBS and eventually took Larry to the studio.
“Well, walking into that TV studio ten years later brought back that feeling in third grade and I instantly knew that was what I wanted to do. I put theatre behind me and got hired part-time, starting out as a production assistant at KHET-TV channel 11 in Honolulu.”
Sichter climbed the ranks of television production, going from production assistant to cameraman, floor director, technical director and eventually studio supervisor. It was while working at Hawaii Public Television that Larry met his wife, Lucile Harrington, who was a writer at the station. Larry excelled at his duties and was made unit manager on a tele-drama called Damien, that went on to win a Peabody award. It was this notoriety that earned Larry an opportunity to direct, so he took on several projects including some original TV shows. In 1983, Larry and his wife, Lucile, decided to put their writing and directing skills to work for the Department of Defense. The pair made training videos for the Navy at the Pearl Harbor Naval shipyard with Lucile writing and Larry directing.
Larry’s next directing adventure would take him to Frankfurt, Germany. His base of operations was at the U.S. Army 5th Corps headquarters, it was from here that Sichter created training videos for the U.S. Army at the height of the Cold War. While in Germany, Larry discovered and would eventually come to work for American Forces Network. After working on a variety of projects Sichter eventually became Chief of Television at AFN-Europe. With the advent of satellite technology the communications industry began to go through a drastic change, which Sichter adapted to by moving to the AFN Broadcast Center at March ARB in Moreno Valley.
“In a way, every move I made career-wise was because of new technology,” Sichter reflects.
It was at this time that Larry and his family came to call Menifee home, where they have been for the last 22 years. Larry worked at the March ARB location for 17 years before retiring and turning his focus back to his passion; acting.
“After I retired, I decided since I’d done my college major, it was time to get back to my college minor,” Sichter said, “After a 41-year gap in my theatrical career, I felt it was time to get back to my roots.”
Since his retirement, Sichter has been heavily involved with local theater, specifically at Mt. San Jacinto College. In March, Larry was recognized by the Inland Theatre League for his work as Juror #8 in Twelve Angry Men.
“It was my first lead role and it’s the toughest one I’ve done. But, it was such a natural fit for me. As Juror #8, I tried not to channel Henry Fonda,” Sichter said of his role, “but as my dear wife, Lucile, says, ‘it’s not a bad thing to channel Henry Fonda."
Sichter has recently completed a run of Kiss Me Kate under the direction of MSJC’s theatre chair, Payden Ackerman, with whom he has done five shows. Sichter continues to audition for local theatre groups and has recently been cast in the Riverside Community Players upcoming production of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Also pursuing some musical endeavors, the artist plays guitar and finds that his time on stage is really helping him to find his musical persona.
Larry Sichter has been involved with Arts Council Menifee and The Menifee Valley Community Cupboard for a number of years. When asked about his time with the organizations, Larry replied, “I try to help when I can where I can, whether it is delivering food with Bill (Ackerman) at the cupboard or helping out with Arts Council events like Menifee’s Got Talent.”
Arts Council Menifee Trustee, Colleen Ackerman, has worked with Sichter on Menifee’s Got Talent for several years and had the following to say about her experiences with Larry:
“Larry is the most caring and reliable “go to” person I know. His willingness to jump in and do anything that is asked of him is indeed admirable and always appreciated. Working with Larry is always a truly enjoyable experience because of his ability, reliability, and great sense of humor. ACM would love to have more volunteers like Larry Sichter!”
Arts Council Menifee is pleased to recognize Larry Sichter’s dedication to his acting craft and to the community by electing him as May’s Artist of the Month. Keep an eye out for Larry’s work on a stage near you.