Southeast Theatre Alum Earns His Ears at Disney


Southeast Missouri State University alumnus Maxwell Schnur loves seeing happy faces at “The Most Magical Place on Earth.”

“Seeing the faces of our guests, both adults and children alike, light up when they enjoy the show and the magical experience we provide them — that’s my favorite part,” he says of his role.

A native of Joplin, Missouri, Schnur has spent the past two years in Kissimmee, Florida, as an Entertainment Technician at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Recently he became the Lighting and Effects Crew Chief of “A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration”. This position, he says, offers him a perfect balance of being able to lead fellow technicians and manage technology, as well as collaborate with designers and entertainers.

“It’s fun and exciting being responsible for the major elements of a beloved show, performing all the technical positions, and working alongside my fellow crew chiefs, managers, and technicians to keep the show maintained and the Hyperion Theatre safe,” he said.

In addition to his primary duties, Schnur is a pyrotechnician, lighting and effects technician for “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular,” and provides support for special events, marathons, dedications, and filming. Last fall, his talent and efforts earned him a Quarterly Spotlight Award from Disney’s Hollywood Studios Entertainment Leadership.

He says one of his favorite memories since working at Disney was working as an effects technician for the 2018 Disney Parks Magical Christmas Day Parade ABC filming at the Magic Kingdom Castle Stage.

“I set up and operated stage effects during filming, which included CO2 jets, low-lying fog, haze, snow, propane flames, spark effects and confetti. The filmed performances included celebrities like Sarah Hyland, from ABC’s “Modern Family”; Jordan Fisher, who is currently playing the lead role in the Broadway production of “Dear Evan Hansen”; and singers Andrea and Matteo Bocelli.”

Schnur says his passion for lighting design started at an early age.

“I have always been fascinated by lighting, not only in theatre and entertainment, but for amusement parks and architectural applications as well. Learning effects came along with pursuing an occupation in lighting, and is fun and challenging on its own,” he said. “Previous experience includes combining both lighting and effects in building haunted houses at Cedar Point Amusement Park and turning Worlds of Fun, Kings Island and Carowinds into winter wonderlands for their debut of Winterfest 2017.”

Schnur  made several career moves before landing with Disney. After graduating from Southeast in spring 2012 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre with an emphasis in technology and design, he began working at the Huron Playhouse in Huron, Ohio, as a lighting designer. From there, he went on to be a lighting technician at Cedar Point Amusement Park, working on a new Halloween-themed cirque-style show called “Skeleton Crew.” In fall 2014, he decided to dedicate his time to the Huron Playhouse as their technical director for the summer, before eventually returning to the River Campus as the assistant technical director.

“Being able to work alongside touring companies at the River Campus allowed me to experience the fast-paced and quick decision-making environment of live theatre and entertainment,” he said. “I was able to get my hands-on technology that is not usually present in an academic setting.”

In April 2017, he relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina, to be a lighting designer’s assistant for the Cedar Fair family of amusement parks. He played a vital role in helping to debut the “Winterfest” event in 2017. In April 2018, he finally made the jump to Disney World where he has happily spent the last two years.

When he is not assisting with any number of activities at Disney World, Schnur says he enjoys canoeing on the Wekiva River in Florida.

“It’s a great and relaxing contrast to the bustling tourism of Orlando,” he said. “Florida has an abundance of natural beauty and wildlife that shouldn’t be missed.”

In the future, Schnur says he would like to focus on gaining more leadership opportunities, as well as being involved in continued and additional collaboration and decision-making at Disney.