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Signature Memphis | October 2019

Photo by Steve Roberts

Brett Batterson

President & CEO, Orpheum Theatre Group

Hometown: Davenport, Iowa

Favorite Song: “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen

Your Lucky Charm: My wife, Veronica. Her brain works differently than mine, so when she questions me or makes suggestions, it helps me see things from a different perspective. She has saved me from my own worst thinking on many occasions.

A Nonliving Celebrity/Role Model You Would Invite to Dinner: Theodore Roosevelt. He was a NYC Police Commissioner, western cattle rancher, war hero, Governor, Vice-President, President, author and Nobel Peace Prize winner. He was the first President to entertain an African-American at a White House dinner and was largely responsible for our National Park System. The man knew how to live! I would love to hear him tell stories over a plate of elk chops or some other equally manly meal.

Your Favorite Memphis “Thang”: Anywhere in the city, you can hear music in the air and smell BBQ smoke.

Favorite Place to Travel: New York City. I am very fortunate that, because of my job, I get to travel to my favorite destination almost every month. For non-work travel, I like Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Best Memphis Hangout: Belmont Grill. From the outside, you might mistake it for a dive bar with its bent neon sign, but inside, it is perfect. Dark, woodsy, comfortable and really good food.

First Car You Owned: 1965 turquoise and white GMC ½-ton pick-up. I paid $500 for it to drive to Utah to do summer-stock theatre in 1978.

Place You Go to Think: The empty balcony of the Orpheum. Just and Mary, the ghost, and I hanging out and making plans.

Favorite Southern Idiom: From my time in New Orleans, I really love the word “lagniappe” — a little something extra you get or give for no reason.

Best Advice You Ever Got: My childhood theatre director, Mary Nighswander, told me, “The first thing you need to know in the theatre is when to get on stage and when to get off. Mess up either of those things and the consequences can be dire for everybody.” I have followed that advice in many instances.

The Highlight of Your Day: Early morning in my backyard with a cup of coffee and my dog, Lily. I love the solitude, green grass and birds singing before the day gets busy and hectic.

Proudest Moment of Your Life:  I am most proud of my wife and two daughters, but let’s assume you don’t mean family. I am proud that I have been asked to serve as Best Man at friends’ weddings on seven occasions. For most men, asking someone to serve as their Best Man is the highest honor they will ever bestow on another man. To think that seven times in my life, different friends have thought me worthy of that honor is both humbling and gratifying.

Who Would Play You in a Movie (or a Show): I’d like to think it would be Brad Pitt, but it would more likely be John Candy or Chris Farley.

Something You’ll Never Live Down: My obsession with cowboy boots. I have 14 pairs in my closet right now and wear them every day. Most people in Memphis have never seen me in anything other than cowboy boots.

One Goal You’d Still Like to Accomplish: Veronica and I have visited all 50 states together, but there is a lot of the world left for us to see. I would like to do more over-seas travel.