I have been given a gift.

 

That gift is community theatre.

 

Upon the upcoming opening of SPAMALOT here in Brainerd, allow me to describe that gift.

 

It’s the people, folks.  When it comes to friends I’ve made in theatre, I cannot possibly make a list of names, for fear of leaving people out, so I won’t go that far.  But if I put together a list of people I have gotten to know through community theatre, that list would include custodians, bus drivers, teachers, secretaries, students, computer technicians, professors, nurses, designers – and more.  Many of these remain friends; even though we may have not seen each other in several years, a little contact via Facebook or a chance encounter brings back all the joys of the shows we shared.  I also suspect this will remain true for the new friends I am making with this latest show.

 

I have shared the stage with people who used to be my students – and that is a very special relationship for me.  Community theatre bridged us from that teacher-student world to the friendship world, and I wouldn’t change that for anything.

 

I have shared the stage with theatre friends more than once – some going back decades.  Again, no names, but you might say a certain mayor of Finland and a certain member of the round table fit here.  I am sure that I will be able to say the same about the SPAMALOT cast – I am sure our paths will cross again over time as more shows come and go.

 

And those not on stage – the musicians, the techies, the directors, the ushers and marketing folks in the ticket booths – so many friends out of that arm of theatre are there, too.  I’ve not done much with tech over the years, but I’ve learned a whole bunch of stuff.  I’ve been a member of the pit orchestra several times – in fact, that was where I started with CLC theatre, back in the late 70s when a certain young lady (who later went on to play in a recent production of GLASS MENAGERIE) played the lead in THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN.

 

And on a personal level, community theatre gave me my wife – In 1982, while auditioning for GUYS AN DOLLS, the rehearsal pianist and I hooked up.  Lo and behold, a year later, Sue became my wife.  I can also say that I’ve shared the stage at one time or another with my two kids – in fact, all four of us were in OKLAHOMA in 1994 – and as far as I know, my son still holds the record for the youngest kid to have a spoken line on the CLC stage – “Who’s gonna be the auctioneer?”.

 

And the audience –  the support from friends and family  who come to watch a show just because they care enough to come see what I’m up to – that kind of stuff is priceless.   Then there’s the random chance of someone recognizing me for having done a part in a show – oh yes, a very special, humbling experience.

 

So to all of you connected with SPAMALOT, on and off the stage – may you be equally be blessed as I have with all the wonderful people connected with community theatre.  May you continue to enjoy the blessings that come from those people.

 

And I hope we share the stage again – real soon.

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