Sunday, November 4, 2012

Catch a little local theater

Ever hear about a school production after the event and wish you had gone?  There are many productions that feature kids from 4th grade through high school coming up in the local towns outside of Ann Arbor that you might enjoy.  I happen to know the directors of all of them so thought it would be a good idea to share the information. Attending them is a great way to experience a little local culture, see a play you aren’t familiar with, and support our kids in their thespian pursuits.  Coming up:  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Man who Came to Dinner, Father of the Bride, How to Succeed in Business WIthout Really Trying, and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

In Saline, Community Education’s Youth Theater Guild, a class in its second year, created for student in grades 4-8 who want to learn more about acting and non-musical play productions, is presenting The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe on November 9 & 10 at 7:30 PM at Liberty School Auditorium, 7265 N. Ann Arbor St., Saline. Tickets are $5 general admission at the door.  The play by Joseph Robinette, based on the C.S. Lewis book of the same name, is a beloved fantasy about children who escape through a wardrobe into a fabulous world that’s in the grip of an evil ruler.  The show is directed by Kristen Glatz. Cast members include: Megan Bankowski, Tricia Becker, Jeff Blair, Karolina Burtell, Gillian Cain, Alyssa Dawson, Sydney Friedman, Hana Hughes, Kai Jackson, Arianna Jenks, Leah Keller, Ella Marsh, Lydia Mitchell, Tori Monge, Marcela Passos, Allie Pataro, Courtney Pellerin, Maddeline Ringe, Robin Sibo, Collin Wagner, Jared Webb, Karsten Whitley, and Collin Williams.

Kristen also works with the Saline High School Drama Club. She directs, along with Hannah Burke as assistant director, their fall production, The Man Who Came to Dinner, on November 16 and 17 at 7:30 PM and November 18 at 2 PM in the Ellen A Ewing Performing Arts Center at Saline High School.  Seating is general admission and tickets are available at the door ($7.00 for adults and $5.00 for students and seniors). Written by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, this classic in American comedy, that premiered in 1939 and has enjoyed several revivals in both New York and London, is considered to be a staple of high school and community theaters. 

The Man Who Came to Dinner is set in the small town of Mesalia, Ohio, in the weeks before Christmas.  Sheridan Whiteside, a radio celebrity known for his quick wit and large personality, has been invited to have dinner at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Stanley.  When Whiteside slips on the icy steps outside the house and injures his hip, he is forced to convalesce in the family’s library.  The Stanley’s are soon host to an eclectic mix of odd Hollywood and New York celebrities, as Whiteside’s friends descend on Mesalia to visit.  Throw in an absent-minded local doctor and a romance between Whiteside’s long-time secretary and the town newspaperman, and you have a perfect set-up for zany comedy.
The cast includes Ellen Adle, Sushrut Athavale, Kevin Bolanos,  Delaney Brewer, Matt Burtell, Joshua Carmen, Abby Dester, Brenna Hines, Daniel Hochrein, Alexandra Konwinski, Ariana Lapine, Nathaniel Mack, Maddie Montambault, Ryan Neet, Paul Popa, Isabella Procassini, Eric Redfern, Chris Seeman, and Lindsey Zinbarg.

This weekend in Milan, Lisa Goerlitz, who grew up in Saline will be directing Father of the Bride at Milan High School, 200 Big Red Dr., Milan, MI. Shows are November 9-11 and November 16-18. All Friday and Saturday shows are at 7pm. Sunday shows are at 2pm. Tickets are available at the door for $7 each, or you can order them online at

The play, written by Edward Streeter, shares the hilarious antics of Stanley Banks as he and his wife cope with the wedding planning for the marriage of their daughter, Kay, to Buckley. Mr. Banks feels like his life has been turned upside down as the preparations begin.

And, if you want to drive a little farther and enjoy a musical, Chelsea High School Theater Guild, under the direction of Carrie Jay Sayer (who recently directed Saline Area Players’ The Sound of Music) will be presenting How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, music and lyrics by Frank Loesser.  Show dates are November 16 & 17 at 7 PM and November 18 at 3 PM This is a comedy, set in the 1960's office world of big business. It's one ambitious young man's triumph in climbing the corporate ladder of the World Wide Wicket Company from window washer to chairman of the board in the most hilarious and unorthodox ways. The characters will keep you laughing and entertained throughout the performance.

And finally, MARK YOUR CALENDARS for Saline Area Players’ upcoming presentation of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson November 29 & 30 at 7 PM and Dec 1 & 2 at 1 & 3:30 PM at Stone Arch Arts and Events, 117 S. Ann Arbor St., Saline.  More information to come about that, but check out the website for details now:

Treat yourself to a play in the coming weeks!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Who is she?

What goes into developing a character – for starters, dedication, personal reflections, and connecting with parts of your life. For everyone, it is different, and depends on the character the person is playing and the actor’s different experiences.  No one person will have the same take on a character as another, which makes live theater so wonderful. I’m producing Steel Magnolias, Saline Area Players’ upcoming show this week, and asked some of the cast members to reflect on what it is like for them.  The richness of their answers excited me.

Diana Armistead, who plays Ouiser Boudreaux, an eccentric wealthy woman in this southern town, says that her character is a composite of various people she has known.  She doesn’t want to say who, but notes that she is not playing one person, but perhaps parts of different people that she can pull from.  She thinks of her character as a composite of different moments of different people all in one.

She also has a special connection to this play – roots.  When she first read the play, she realized that it takes place in the northwest part of Louisiana, which is personally significant to her since her father was from Shreveport, a town a little north of where this play takes place. She never knew her father who died in Monroe and lived mostly in Shreveport.  Her great grandpa started a hospital in Shreveport.  Although she grew up in Michigan, she has visited the area several times, driven around the cemeteries to find the names of ancestors, saw the home in which her father was born, and began getting to know her cousins.  Doing so has helped her really visualize the area of the country where the show takes place, and being in this show, is an opportunity to live in that world for awhile.

Patti Ringe who plays Truvy, the beauty salon owner, has tons of funny lines.  Having been raised in a house full of laughter, she’s used to one liners and zingers thrown out during everyday conversations.  Each family member used a different pattern of speech, and timing was also different.  She also watched a lot of comedy shows with women stars, growing up. She says that “developing a character was more like squeezing some of my favorite character's traits together, and throwing in a southern drawl.”

Patti says that she has played different types of roles on stage and in real life, but wife and mother are her favorites, and she uses these in her role.  Her on stage home life is much different from her personal one.  She says “I can feel my character’s pain about these relationships, and how she uses humor to deal with/deflect tough events in her life.  I have strong relationships with my mom, my younger sister, two precious daughters and many women friends, in real life, so the bonds between these women are not foreign to me either. It's funny how normal these on onstage conversations are, and how they could take place anywhere...really!”

Another character in the play is M’Lynn, the mother of an adult daughter who has diabetes and eventually dies.  M’Lynn is being played by BJ Danner.  She says, “I have no idea how it is to lose a child and I don't ever want to. But I do know what it is like to have a child who has a chronic disease that they will never grow out of. Our son has asthma and never grew out of it. When he was 2, he was hospitalized 5 times. We almost lost him a couple of times and it is truly difficult to stay strong and positive when you have a sick child. We did not let him use his asthma as an excuse to not exercise and play sports. He played football for 4 years in high school 3 years on Varsity and was on the track team. Art is 31 now and has 3 beautiful children. He will always have asthma but knows how to handle his disease and live with it. I find I can identify with M'Lynn's concern for her child and I try to channel that experience into my role.”

I’m impressed by the self-reflection these actors put into their characters.  Plays mirror life in so many ways and the connections between the people we play and our real lives are closer than we expect sometimes.  Come see Steel Magnolias Oct 26-28!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Cuppa Cuppa Cuppa

“Oops. I see a hole.”   As the first line in the play Steel Magnolias being performed by the Saline Area Players October 26-28, 2012, the character Annelle (the beauty salon assistant) is referring to a spot in a hairdo.  This show is rife with funny lines, and also poignant ones.  Having said many lines in my past, I find that some come back to me time and again… often because they give some simple meaning or truism or reflect life in some way.

For example, Patti Ringe, who plays Truvy, the hairdresser who owns the shop where the show takes place, is partial to the meaning in this line:  “Smile…it increases your face value!”  So true (and it gives you smile wrinkles instead of frown ones). Lisa Goerlitz, who plays Shelby, likes the line "I'd rather have 30 minutes of wonderful, than a lifetime of nothing special."  Lisa says... It's such a thought provoking, and motivating statement.  In one moment, Shelby suddenly puts everything into perspective for both her mother and the audience.  After all, if we're all living a life of "nothing special," then what's the point?

Some lines are descriptive of a particular character.  I’m planning on remembering both of these lines – they could come in handy someday.  Diana Armistead who plays Ouiser, a wealthy eccentric in the play, has the perfect line for explaining herself.  It is….“I’m not crazy, I’ve just been in a real bad mood for 40 years.”  Or how about Clairee’s line (the ex-mayor’s wife):  "Somebody always said 'If you don't have anything nice to say about anyone - come sit by me!'" Barbara Day, who plays the character, likes it for the way it displays the “smart ass” trait about her character that makes her relatable.  In fact, she said the characters in the play remind her of many of her friends, all of whom can be great “smart asses” when they want to be!

BJ Danner, who plays M’Lynn in the play, loves another of  Truvy’s lines, although she’s not sure if it is for the line itself or the way Patti Ringe says it: "Then take some of the butterscotch in that dish. Throw some in her bag, Clairee. They are the best. They start out real hard, but once you suck all the coating off, they get real chewy. My two favorite things...crunchy and chewy and buttery...all in one. Delicious."

Another funny one by Shelby’s character:  “That’s right.  A lot of Mama’s mental patients are born-again Christians.”  The character says it with such sincerity that she’s completely oblivious to how offensive it is.

Or another one by Ouiser… “A dirty mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

If you come see the show Steel Magnolias, maybe you’ll have a favorite line.  Or, watch out for this one… I’m not telling what it’s about…

“Where’s that other one you were telling me about… Cuppa, cuppa, cuppa?”       

Monday, June 25, 2012

Summer Theater Offerings for Kids

Recently at a party, I asked a friend what the age range was for her upcoming theater camp for kids.  She gave me a smirk and told me I was “too old.”  Actually, the reason I asked is that there were a few young people around who liked theater and I thought it might be a good opportunity for them.  And since that conversation, I’ve learned that there are a lot of theater camps popping up for kids.  Here are a few that I know about in the area:

Saline Community Education is having their yearly Broadway Boot Camp led by Rebecca Groeb-Driskill, who is the theater manager for the Saline Area Schools. If you don’t know about her wonderful skills, take a peek at an earlier blogpost I wrote, A Joyous “Hello, Dolly!” Rehearsal, to get an idea about how marvelous she works with kids. The summer program is a week camp for kids in grades 3-9 in which kids will learn about musical theater and its techniques and learn some scenes from popular Broadway musicals to be performed on the final day of camp.  For more information about this camp that meets July 16-20, check out the Saline Community Education catalog on page 8.

Another new opportunity is given by professional film and theatre actress Michele Messmer.  She will conduct two five-day acting workshops for youth from July 9-13.  The workshop will meet at Stone Arch Arts and Events and one session will be for grades 5-7 and another for grades 8-12.  The workshops will cover acting for stage and film, audition techniques, monologue, scene work and voice and movement training.  It will culminate with a show for family and friends on the final day.  For more information, email her at

Milan Community Education is sponsoring three theatre classes taught by Erin McDonald who has a Bachelor of Arts/Theater from Lock Haven University and a Master of Fine Arts, Drama/Theatre for the Young from EMU.  There is a two-day puppetry class for kids ages 4-7, a theater games class for kids in grades 2-5, and an improvisation and comedy class for those in grades 6-9. There’s also a Friday Fun Camp all about musical theatre. The classes are listed through Milan Community Education.

The Encore Musical Theatre company is sponsoring a summer program as well, led by Thalia Schramm who holds a BFA in Theatre from The University of Michigan and has worked at a summer camp in many positions in Frankfort, MI for 5 years.  The summer program includes camps for all ages, although some are already past. Students will have an opportunity to be part of an audition session as well and receive feedback from Broadway veterans.  

I’m sure there are many more opportunities that I don’t even know about, but these are certainly a few that are in the area.  I have this vague recollection of being in a drama class during the summer when I was a kid. I think we did Midsummer Night’s Dream or a variation thereof, but I can’t quite be certain.  Anyway, even though I posed the question for the young folks at the party, now that I think about it, I sure wish I WERE young enough to partake in these activities.  If you play it right, you can go to more than one!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

What's it like being a professional actor?

One of the incredible perks of performing in a show at Dexter’s Encore Musical Theatre Company is meeting professional actors, or those on their way there.  This spring I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Barbara Scanlon who made a mesmerizing debut at The Encore last September as Margaret Johnson in Light in the Piazza, and is playing the Reverend Mother in our production of Nunsense.  She graciously let me interview her about what it has been like being a professional actress.   Many of us dream about what it would be like doing this day in and day out… well, she’s lived it.

I must admit, I was nervous about meeting her and playing in the same production, especially knowing that she had played the part I’m playing, Sister Amnesia, in a professional theater.  She played the part in a summer stock show in Alabama – they had two weeks of rehearsals and two weeks of shows, even shorter than our run. Evidently, the actors were housed in a bungalow on a farm during the run…and the horses poked their heads in the windows.  Behind-the-scenes in the theater business isn’t always glamorous, but definitely interesting.  Anyway, it turns out that actors are real people and getting to know her has been fun.

Barbara has many experiences.  One of the most recent was that she was on the third national tour of Phantom of the Opera for 8 years.  She joined the tour after it had been running for 7 years.  On the tour, they stopped for a least a month at every destination.  They would take their cars with them and find lodging in each town.  She remembers renting a house in Salt Lake City.   On other tours, they sometimes stopped for only a week at one place and were put up in a hotel.  There, they ventured out a few blocks from the hotel, to find food, but never were there long enough to feel settled.  They basically lived out of their cars and suitcases. 

For the Phantom tour, Barbara was in the ensemble and also the understudy to two parts, Madame Giry and Carlotta.  She told me that she played those parts more than 100 times while on tour.  She describes the tour as like any job.  Everyone gets vacation and time off.  They work at night and have the days off.  They perform 8 shows a week, 2 shows on Saturdays and Sundays, and have Mondays off.  As with any job, she made many of her friends through her work.  One memory she has is that the person who played the Phantom on one tour was someone she had been in the ensemble with years before in Camelot.  It was a nice reunion.

Barbara grew up in Detroit and received her bachelor’s degree in music from Michigan State University.  She was living with her mother and working at an insurance company and doing gigs locally, like singing for the Michigan Opera Theater performing kid’s shows.  A friend convinced her to go to New York.  He returned after a year, but she stayed.  She took a number of theater classes and lessons while in New York.  At that time, it was easier to get an equity card and she was able to do it after one performance in Long Island as Jack’s mother in a kids’ show of Jack and the Beanstalk.

Her first jobs were often summer stock.  She spent a summer in Ohio and Michigan at Fred Kenley’s Theater of the Stars.  She met some now famous actors during that summer.  She remembers watching Ken Berry tap up a storm in George M and said he was very good.  That was also her tap debut… “in the back row”.  Jane Powell starred in My Fair Lady and Anne Blythe was in their production of Kiss Me Kate.  The next summer she performed in Milwaukee at the Melody Top (which became a parking lot the year after).  It was a theater in the round.  She was Glinda, the good witch, in the Wizard of Oz, a plum role.

Barbara also toured overseas.  She was in an American company that performed Evita in Germany, Vienna and Singapore.  She remembers a favorite restaurant in Frankfurt and trying to order food in German.  “The first experiment ordering yielded liver, ugh!”

Barbara was in a Broadway production of Camelot with Robert Goulet. She was in the ensemble and also the understudy for Guenevere   She states that she never got to play opposite him - he wouldn’t agree to it because he said she was “too tall.”  When asked if she was able to interact much with the “big stars”, she said that it depended.  Although Robert Goulet’s wife often sheltered him from the rest of the cast, she remembers one Halloween playing pool with him.  She was also on a Camelot tour (a “suitcase tour” with weekly stops) with Richard Harris, also as the understudy for Guenevere.  This time she was able to play the role opposite him.  She said, though, that at times he would decide that he was tired, and on those nights he’d do a lot of sitting on stage, and the other actors would have to work around him. 

I was curious if she encountered many “groupies” after performances.  She stated that on the Phantom tours, there were often people waiting outside the theaters to see the stars.  She said that in some places, people would follow them around which was a bit creepy.  There were also lots of people hanging out after Camelot, but they were mostly there to see the big name stars.  For awhile she’d wear the show shirts they could purchase, but later began leaving them at home.

As mentioned earlier, many look with awe and envy at professional actors wondering what it would be like, especially if you were doing it for a living.  As a professional, Barb says that she doesn’t sing for fun anymore, but learns music to meet upcoming goals.  She protects her voice by not using it much on performance days so that it is in good shape for the paying audiences.  She still enjoys what she does and the challenge of learning new parts and songs. And what’s it like being on a huge professional stage, like on the Phantom tour, playing to full houses every night?  She acknowledges occasional jitters, like anyone would have, especially when doing a part for the first time.  But the sell-out crowds, they start feeling “normal.”  It’s the shows without huge audiences that feel weird. What is the best part of professional acting?  Her response:  traveling and meeting new people plus having new experiences.

If you want to learn more about Barbara Scanlon, check out her website. If you want to see her perform, check out our last weekend of Nunsense at The Encore…. Shows run through June 10.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Whew.  Just finished the second of four weekends performing in The Encore Musical Theatre Company’s production of Nunsense.  Exhausted!  As an amateur actor, I’ve had the privilege of performing on many local community theater stages including Ann Arbor Civic Theater, Dexter Community Players, Chelsea Area Players and my home base, Saline Area Players.  Last summer was my first experience with The Encore, a relatively new company in Dexter that specializes in professional musical theatre.  At that time, I played a character role in Music Man, and although the experience was certainly more intense than my other community theater experiences, it wasn’t until this show, in which I’m on stage most of the time, that the differences really hit home.

This is a quick reflection and behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like being involved in a professional theater experience versus a community theater experience.  One big difference is that in community theater, when you do a musical, the rehearsal schedule is generally 8-10 weeks.  In this most recent show, we rehearsed for 3 weeks and 2 days before opening night.  Whew!

In community theater, you generally rehearse 4 nights a week if you have a major role, and often less, at least at the beginning, if you have a supporting or chorus role.  In this show, I was called every night and was there pretty much the whole time.   We rehearsed Tuesdays-Sundays (4 hours during the week and 5-6 hours on weekends) – that’s 27 hours a week.  (That’s only slightly less hours than I work a week at my real job, which I was doing also). Mondays are traditionally “dark.” 

So, that was definitely a tax on my aging brain - learning lines, music, and movement in a very short time span.  And the two ironies are (can you have two?) that I teach memory improvement classes at work (which was actually good, as they came in handy) and the character I’m playing is Sister Mary AMNESIA.  Yes, my character is pretty forgetful, and with the stress on my brain learning everything, I thought for a time I was as forgetful in real life.  But, I got it…eventually! 

Another huge difference is that the performance schedule is much longer.  In community theater, you generally do a show for one weekend and, if you’re lucky, two, for a total of 3-4 or at most 7-8 shows.  In this show, we’re performing 20 times.  That’s a lot of times for me to be forgetful.  I can tell you, though, that after multiple times of doing a show, it really begins to gel and you really have a chance to fine-tune your character.  You can really enjoy it. The downside is that you have to keep it fresh every night for the audiences.  But we’ve had great audiences!

Another perk from the professional experience is getting to meet equity actors or those earning points toward becoming an equity actor.  Some of these people are paid.  I can’t begin to explain the whole process, other than if you are working towards becoming an equity actor, you get points by performing in professional theaters.  So, it is fun to meet people who are working towards becoming an equity actor and those who’ve been on regional or national stages already.  And, the rehearsals are run as a professional theater, very efficiently with high expectations, and with standard break times that are strictly observed (which a good thing because I usually needed one). It is also a place where you have direction by professional directors, an extremely rich learning experience.

There are probably more comparisons to make, but that’s enough for now.  One commonality is that in both experiences I’ve met incredibly nice people.  And, as in any theater production I’ve been a part of, there is an amazing camaraderie that grows out of working together on a collaborative project. 

Nunsense runs two more weekends at The Encore Musical Theatre Company.  If you enjoy laughing and quality entertainment, check it out!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Peter Pan and Wendy cast members answer... "What do you like about your part?

The auditorium at Saline Middle School was bursting with energy Monday afternoon as the cast and crew of Peter Pan and Wendy gathered for the first run through on stage with scenery, lights, sound and many costumes (not required until the next day).  I had the privilege of catching a glimpse of the action and talking to the kids in the show behind the scenes.  The play is directed by Kristen Glatz and is put on by the Saline Middle School Drama Club.  It is an adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s 1911 novel about a boy who won’t grow up.

Clearly, these young thespians are an enthusiastic lot. One of the best parts of being involved in theater is taking on the persona of someone totally different than you, and developing that character.  It is clear that these kids are into their parts and have thought about them too.  I struck up conversations with many of the kids in the show to ask about their characters, why they liked playing them, and some of their favorite lines.  Here’s what they said:

There were a number of “lost boys” hanging around, so I tried to find out what they liked about being lost boys.  Maddie said that she gets to “have fun” and “I don’t have to “memorize lines”.  Sammie said the lost boys “don’t need to follow any rules.”  Lexi and Olivia play twin lost boys and they enjoyed shopping together to get their twin outfits.  Per Lexi, “we’re twins and get to say half the lines together”.  Per Olivia, “we’re young and get to do immature things” - some of those things - hitting people with a pillow and sticking out tongues.  “Art” (his “alias” and the only male lost boy) said that he likes the part because there isn’t much talking… rather they get  “to act it out – it makes it a lot more like drama.”  Jeannette likes getting away from the middle school routine and “being young.”  Ayla (with twigs coming out of her hair and big rips in her pants) said that she enjoyed making the costume.

Daniel is playing a pirate named “Bill Jukes” in the play.  He likes it because he enjoys dressing in costume and gets to be covered with tattoos.  He doesn’t know yet how many of the washcloth tattoos it will take to cover his body, but will find out before opening night.  One of his favorite parts is that he gets to scream (he’s been practicing) and die at the end.  Another pirate, “Smee,” played by McKenzie is like Captain Hook’s right hand man.  She says that Smee has always been her mother’s favorite character in Peter Pan.  Her favorite line:  “What’s a mother?”  Julie, her good friend, plays Captain Hook and enjoys “randomly saying lines during school and having people laugh at them if they’re in the play, while those who are not in the play try to figure out what I’m talking about.”  Her favorite line:  “A codfish!?”  Audra is enjoying working on screaming like a little girl. 

I met Gabi before rehearsal started.  She was hopping up and down constantly as she told me about her part of Michael, the 5-year old boy, and said that her friends think she is perfect for the part.  She likes wearing footie pajamas and is small and definitely energetic.  Her teddy bear, hugged tightly to her chest, adds to her character.  Her “father” in the play, Mr. Darling is being played by Ethan whose enjoys his loud and boisterous character and whose favorite line is, “then let them, let the whole world hear!”

Tinkerbell is played by Cora who says that that acting this part is something “I would never do otherwise – I hope I’m not rude” (in real life). She likes her death scene when she almost dies, and also when she gets mad at the lost boy who almost wakes her up.  Lindsay, who plays Tiger Lily and describes her character as “brave” and “rebellious,” enjoys the part because she has friends who are pirates and “we’re supposed to be enemies and I get to roughhouse with them.” 

Robin plays Never Bird and gets to roll around in a big nest that she made with her Dad.  Her favorite line:  “You dunder-headed little Jay – why don’t you just do as I say?” to Peter Pan.  I didn’t get to interview Peter Pan or Wendy or many of the other cast members, but could tell that they were all having a good time.  To quote Peter Pan, “… I just always want to be a little boy and to have fun.”

I had a delightful time meeting these kids and seeing them so invested in their parts.  The show will go up on Thursday and Friday nights, April 19 & 20, at the Saline Middle School at 7:00 for the general public.  Tickets are $5.00 at the door.  

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Why do we do this?

Who would choose on purpose to skip or rush through dinners for weeks on end, get home after 10 p.m. every night exhausted and ready to flop in bed, collect so many bruises that you don’t know where they start and end or where they came from, ask your spouse to do all the childcare for a month, miss your loved ones, throw family dinners out the window, abandon the laundry and the housekeeping, and feel exhausted most of the time? And then when it is over, subject yourself to the blues where you feel malaise and exhaustion for days to come?  The answer:  your neighbors and friends who love community theater.  Putting on a production takes an inordinate amount of work, but it’s worth it. 

Having just finished Saline Area Players’ production of The Carol Burnett Show, I asked myself, and my fellow castmates and crew…. Why in the world do we do this?  I mean there must be a reason that we put ourselves through this incredible ordeal.   The answers I got were rich and thoughtful.

One says “I have found that I am rarely happier, more comfortable, more truly myself than when I get to sing, act, and (only when necessary) dance on stage. There is something akin to magic when cast and crew come together, bringing a piece of their hearts and souls to the stage. Something comes alive among us - and having the audience there magnifies it. It is as though a whole world is created there, and having a hand in bringing that about feels like nothing else I've ever done. And when it is finished, we each get to take a tiny piece of that world - and of each other - home with us. My life is immeasurably enriched by those I've met. I wouldn't trade such a treasure for any amount of mere earthly wealth.”

Another says “I find theater folk to be incredibly generous people. We give of ourselves emotionally and physically to people we hardly know, or don’t know at all, in order to truly bring our characters and their stories to life. We have to put every bit of ourselves in front of people…We give our audience and fellow cast members whatever we can to tell the story and make ‘em laugh (or cry, whatever the case may be.) So, I’ve always found it a pleasure to work with theater types, present company, especially, included! … Working together on a production, while often exhausting, is a worthwhile way to spend one’s time when the outcome means that [many people] get to be taken away from whatever life is throwing at them into a place of joy!”

In answering the question, “why do I act?”, another says… “Some people pretend to be someone they're not for at most a few hours a day…And they bound it by saying, ‘Rehearsal or performance happen at this time and the stage is in this place.’  Other people live almost all of their waking hours pretending to be someone they're not. Which of these is more healthy?”

And another says… “For me it gives me the opportunity to use skills that I have little opportunity to employ at home.  It allows me to spend time with some people that I know and enjoy, and to meet new ones that I never would have met otherwise.  I enjoy the camaraderie, the gatherings after, the parties - it all adds spice to my normal mom/wife role.  …. I grow as a person through the course of a production - I am able to be more of an individual instead of a person filling a role (mom, etc.), no matter how important the role may be, and I can take pride in what is accomplished.  I enjoy being part of something that gives so many people pleasure.”

Another comment…. “Being a part of these theater shows (on or off stage) feeds a part of me that nothing else can.  It's not the attention or applause (which are great), but the whole process, constant changes, quick thinking, and immense creativity that physically and mentally can be a drain or a stimulant!  Now that the show itself is complete, there is an emptiness that can only be filled by the next opportunity.”

These responses were amazing…  And, finally, I asked myself my own answer to the question I posed?   From the behind-the scenes angle, I like bringing people together…perhaps it is my social worker background or my age in life or my upbringing, I like mentoring people and watching those individuals who have an interest, develop new skills, grow, and find a niche.  It excites me.  And I love the closeness that comes with many people working together for the same goal.  And there is a thrill for me in seeing my publicity efforts go out and create a buzz.  And for the onstage part, I love the challenge of taking on a totally different character, which is more interested than my real self.  And, I’ll willingly admit that I love making people laugh… it gives me a high that nothing else can.

Another reason … “It’s fun!”  There are many reasons that we do theater.  There have to be, to balance the huge time commitment, the bruises, and the suspension of “real life” for awhile.   But it is worth it!

If anyone is interested in seeing what opportunities are available for you in Saline, check out the Saline Area Players website at  And, if you’re so inclined, leave a comment on this blogpost about why you do community theater.