GRAYLING- Grayling residents, current and former students, sports fans, canoe racers and “Shiglettes” are familiar with the exuberant, jovial, booming voice of Chad Patterson piercing the air. Patterson, with his signature microphone in hand, may be an MC for an event, directing students in a high school play or his improv group, doing a football play by play, or your morning DJ on “Chatterson’s Q100 Wake Up Call.”
Patterson, in an attempt to find “how I fit in” with step siblings, as well as make people laugh, began joking and directing the spotlight towards himself, as a way to “deflect the bad things” by entertaining. Comedy and improv gave him “the good attention” he desired.
Patterson moved to Leslie, Michigan to live with his father and attended high school. This proved to be the “change he needed to focus his energy.” It was there that he met his best friend, Troy Mackinder*. Mackinder and Patterson played football for Leslie. Mackinder was always encouraging Patterson to try out for school plays. Watching his first musical, Bye Bye Birdie with Mackinder’s performance as Conrad Birdie, presented Patterson with a different viewpoint, that he too could perform on stage.
Following graduation from Leslie High School, Patterson went on to attend Lansing Community College, where he pursued his love for theater, performing in plays and doing stand-up comedy.
Patterson met his wife, Lori, through mutual friends. They married in 1996 and she acquired an elementary teaching position at Grayling Schools.
Moving to Grayling from the Lansing area was quite a change for Patterson. He held a variety of jobs, Grayling Restaurant and Glen’s Market. At Glen’s Market, he was the only male cashier at the time. One day a fellow employee approached Patterson asking, “are you an actor”. Patterson told her he had performed in plays in college. The employee gave him a copy of a local ad paper, with an advertisement for a “Teaching Artist for a Theater Company.”
Patterson applied for the position, with the “Acting Up Theater Company” through Kirtland Community College and was subsequently hired. Thinking at the time, “even if this is only just nine weeks, and I never have anything else to do with it again, it will be something different.” Patterson had no construction or technical knowledge at the time, and credits Kurt Thoma and Natasha McKeon, former owners of Acting Up Theater, with guiding him to learn those needed skills.
The program was to go into schools to teach lessons through theater. Stating, “at the time it was rough, because we were learning on the fly.” The most satisfying thing about the program for Patterson, was seeing the faces of the children as they learned and performed. Eventually Patterson eventually became the owner/director of Acting Up. His nearly twenty years with Acting Up Theater ultimately led him to his current activities.
Often getting the feeling that he “needed to meet a certain person now” has led him to doing things he only dreamt possible. Patterson isn’t sure if one might call it fate or kismet, but just the sense that we need to say “yes” when presented with an opportunity, even when it seems a bit scary. His fifteen-year-old self could never have imagined him as a radio DJ, as he was the one calling the local station back then.
Gits and Shiggles is an example of one of those incidents. Happy little accidents.” Kathy Ellison of the AuSable Artisan Village approached Patterson with the idea of doing community theater for adults. Patterson jokingly said I’d like to teach improv! Ellison and the late Tina Foster put together a program. Patterson said, “I got lucky.” He had a group that met once a week for eight weeks, and from that grew the Gits and Shiggles troupe, complete with “Shigglets,” their devoted followers. Gits and Shiggles has raised over $18,000 in five years and has donated all of it to a variety of local community organizations.
Named Grayling Citizen of the Year in 2017 for his community involvement, he really thought the other candidate should have been awarded the title.
Patterson is fond of his work with students, whether through Acting Up, or school plays and musicals. Seeing young people grow and step out of their comfort zones has greatly affected him. He has known students who struggled in school, to go on to do well in life.
Gits and Shiggles does a bit called “Five Things.” When asked what were Patterson’s most important “five things” in life, Patterson stated: 1. Family; 2. Friends; 3. Positive Attitude; 4. Saying YES; and 5. Doing “it” every day. “It” being, putting yourself out there. “Any lesson, is a matter of taking the step forward and asking if you can do it.” Not being afraid of rejection.
Patterson stated the two most pivotal people in his life, have been his friend Troy Mackinder and Kurt Thoma. Mackinder for encouraging him, even when things seemed bleak, and Thoma for giving him a chance in a profession he loves.
Patterson and wife Lori have two children, Seth, and Sam (Del). Both appear destined to follow in their father’s footsteps with theater and entertainment.
*Mackinder, actor, and author of “Practically Speaking,” passed away in 2018.