Travelin’ Man

Despite a job that takes him around the world, Horton always comes home to Morristown

 Professionally, David Horton has been around the world. Working in places like Tokyo, Australia, London with an upcoming date in Dubai on the schedule, Horton can ply his craft as a freelance entertainment and technical consultant nearly anywhere.

 But his heart remains in Morristown.

“I feel drawn to Morristown in general,” he explained. “I love it. I grew up here.”

There are other, more practical, reasons that Horton continues to call Morristown home. The grandson of a former mayor who had another grandfather who served as the fire chief, there are roots he inherited and cultivated, raising his own family here. Morristown’s Theatre Guild – well into its eighth decade in operation – is where he cut his professional teeth after his graduation from the University of Tennessee. His nearly 10-year run as artistic director proved to the young Horton he had what it would take to survive in the entertainment industry.

“The organization really changed my life,” he said.

Horton loves the people – and, more pragmatically, the cost of living. He loves telling people he’s from Tennessee and watching their eyes light up when they realize he means the Smoky Mountains, not Nashville or Memphis.

“It never fails that they talk about the beauty of the area,” he said.

And, of course, he appreciates the area’s natural charms as well.

“I just love the area,” he said. “It’s beautiful.”

A graduate of West High, Horton went away to school in Knoxville where he earned a degree in directing theater, returning to work at the Guild for a decade before getting into theme park work at Dollywood. Since then, Horton has worked three separate times for Disney on various projects, including as a production manager for Mystic Rhythms at the launch of Tokyo Disneyland. That job saw him living in Japan for nine months building an epic fantasy stage show featuring flying rigs, divers and a large water tank.

“It was a really cool, technical show,” Horton said.

He said he enjoyed working in Tokyo and Shanghai, getting to imagine things outside the box. “That was back when Disney was very creative and pushing the envelope,” he said.

In 2004, Horton created Infinite Ideas Entertainment, a multi-pronged consultant agency that provides a myriad of services to help with either the technical or creative side of event creation for business and organizations around the world.

“I’ve been really, really blessed and lucky,” Horton said. “My job description changes from job to job. I do technical work, entertainment work and creative work for conventions, award ceremonies and conferences.”

That means he can be the driving creative force behind an event or he can be in charge of booking acts, coordinating with road managers, making sure the talent has what it needs to perform.

It means a lot of travel. Horton says he averages about two weeks out of the month on the road, lots of trips to places like Orlando and Las Vegas. But as a freelance, things can run hot and cold.

“It’s a feast or famine,” Horton said. “It’s all depending on the economy.”

It all sounds glamorous, traveling the world, doing shows, but Horton usually has little time to actually see the sights. He built some extra time during a job in Lon- don to be a tourist, but usually that’s not the case.

“When I’m there for events, yeah. I don’t get to see it,” he said.

Still, it can be fun, too, he said.

He was in San Diego for an event for Intuit which went so well the CEO declared they were taking the show on the road. That led to the London and Australia trips.

It’s interactions like that – and a strong con- tact list built over the years – that has helped Horton get to where he is.

“I’ve been really lucky to have a lot of good contacts; this entire business is based on who you know,” he said.

But more important than who he knows on the road is who he knows at home. Horton and his wife Barbara have five kids, the youngest just graduated from West High in May. He said overcoming the challenges of life on the road has been a family effort.

“It’s a challenge of course, I have a very under- standing and patient wife who has encouraged me,” he said.

Now with the kids grown, or almost grown, the family has spread out and started building lives of their own. But Morristown remains the hub of the wheel, he said.

“We try to celebrate family as much as we can, holidays we come together – usually we come together here,” he said. “I think it’s just like any job that takes a long time at the office, it takes work in the family – try to make it successful. I’ve been lucky.”

Horton said he and Barbara knew each other as acquaintances during his first stint at the Theatre Guild but didn’t become an item until the paths crossed again in the’90s. After dating a while, they tied the knot Christmas Day of

1999.

When Horton has spare time, he likes to participate in the theater community that helped get him started. He works with the Theatre Guild and Encore, he said, as well as a new community theater group in Pigeon Forge.

“I’m doing some acting classes with them, performance with them, coaching,” he said.

Wherever the road takes him, however, whether it’s Tokyo or Pigeon Forge, Horton always makes his way back to Morristown.

“Morristown feels like home to me,” he said. “It always has.”