Basin Electric engineer helps outdoor summer theater productions

Gavin McCollam, engineering services director, test the flying apparatus he designed and created for Sleepy Hollow Summer Theatre's production of "Peter Pan."

Gavin McCollam, engineering services director, test the flying apparatus he designed and created for Sleepy Hollow Theatre’s production of “Peter Pan.”

It’s often said that kids keep their parents young at heart and help broaden their horizons. Gavin McCollam, Basin Electric engineering services director, can vouch for that.

For 11 years, as his daughters explored their interest in the arts through Sleepy Hollow Theatre & Arts Park, McCollam did, too, by way of volunteering his time and talents to each summer production.

His two biggest undertakings include creating an apparatus so the cast could fly across the stage and building a theater set mostly by himself.

McCollam helped design and build the flying mechanism for the 2005 production of Peter Pan. This is when he unleashed his inner kid, while tapping into his engineering prowess.

“It (the flying apparatus) was rudimentary, but for our level it was pretty cool,” says McCollam with a twinkle in his eye. “I made sure it was done right because we had kids up in the air. I thought ‘no kid is going up here without me trying it first,’ which I did. It was pretty fun!”

Six years later when the technical directors couldn’t arrive on time to build the set, McCollam basically gave up his summer, spending evening and weekends constructing the set mostly by himself and the cast. His efforts earned him the special title of “master carpenter” for the 2011 production.

Cast members’ parents are expected to help with various aspects of the summer production, and McCollam greatly enjoyed the time he spent with his wife and daughters working on the set.

“I grew up playing sports, and they really didn’t do that as much,” says McCollam. “So, this was one thing we could spend quality time on – building sets in the summer.”

Little did McCollam know that his daughters’ appreciation for theatre, music and arts would rub off on him. “I have a whole new appreciation for people who have that talent and what goes into a production,” he says.

“And I have satisfaction that I was part of something that brings joy to the community in a way that I could never do,” he says. “All I can do is build things. I couldn’t get up and sing and dance. Yet, I can still be a part of it and think, ‘I helped do this.’”

Sleepy Hollow Theatre kicks off its 2016 Production July 12 with Beauty and the Beast, followed by Cabaret on Aug. 2. For the full schedule, go to 


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