‘Mike the Mailman’ explores new ‘Heights’: Popular Penn State figure debuts with Thespians

Popular Penn State postman Mike Herr is stepping out of the University Park post office and into the spotlight.

Herr, known to the Penn State community as “Mike the Mailman,” will make an appearance in the Penn State Thespians’ production of “In the Heights” at 7 p.m. April 4 in Schwab Auditorium.

“I’m really actually honored to be with these kids, because these kids are great,” Herr said. “They dedicate their selves and their time and they’re good at what they do, and I’m just excited to be with them.”

According to thespian club member Devon Fields, Herr will play the part of “Mr. Softee,” a role not physically written into the show but known by the characters. Show director Anne-Marie Pietersma said she wanted to find a way to incorporate the role on stage by featuring a Penn State personality figure.

“I couldn’t think of any better person to play (Mr. Softee),” she said. “He is such a light on campus, everyone knows him, and he deserves to be in the spotlight.”

Herr said he was approached by members of the thespian society about the possibility of an appearance about six weeks ago.

“I thought, ‘What’s your problem?’ ” he said, surprised and honored that they would ask him to participate. “She had asked me so nicely and I thought, ‘Well, how can I not do that?’ But it’s part of what I do, I help the kids.”

“If people are coming to see me, they better look quickly because I think I’m just going to be a blink and then I’m gone,” Herr said.

But Herr’s priority is not to steal the spotlight. The positive, optimistic mailman’s aim is to help support the performers.

“As little as it might be, I’m going to help the kids. Hopefully it will help sales,” he said. “This is a big thing for the thespians; this is their big show. And there could be a second career for me looming, I mean who knows. I’m excited to see what it’s like.”

Herr said his only link to the theater is his daughter, who he said was heavily involved with the theater program at the University of Scranton.

“I really do plan to break a leg in the right way,” he said.