Community Theatre Connections
A couple of recent blogs have focused on the on the obvious “connections” among the various members of the Camelot cast–married couples, families, mothers/daughters/sons, boyfriends/girlfriends. More recently, I’ve discovered that the Camelot connections are even deeper and more ethereal.
The latest Camelot connections started to reveal themselves on Mother’s Day. My high school buddy Kevin, linked to Camelot as a set builder, and I were having breakfast at a local Polish diner. When Kevin asked about my Mother’s Day plans, I replied that my wife and I were taking her sister and brother-in-law from Lansing to the show. “Yeah?”, Kev said over his eggs, “ Did you know that Grace Ward is in that show?” “No, I did not,” I replied, “and just who is Grace Ward?” “She went to Ferndale High with us, might be a couple years younger, but she is best friends with Janice Hartsig.” I marveled at Kev’s ability to recall names from 40+ years ago (FHS ’72), until he went on to explain that he learned all of this on Facebook. I made a note to re-introduce myself to Grace at the performance that afternoon.
Later that day, as we were sitting in the VP house waiting for the show to begin, my wife’s brother-in law, Ken, looked at the program and remarked, “Hey, I know this guy,” pointing to Tony Kruzman’s picture.“We went to college together. I haven’t seen him in 15 years!” After the show, I took Ken backstage to reconnect with his college chum.
The next day I had an appointment with one of my health care providers who I had encouraged to see the show. I inquired if she’d seen it yet. “Sure did,” she replied. “Took my daughter and we loved it. I saw my aunt there and half my church!” Ah, theatre connections.
Speaking of the show, I witnessed some of the best and most powerful work on stage that I have seen in many a production. Needless to say, Noel Franklin beguiled us in Act I with “C’est Moi,” and then, solidified his connection with every woman in the audience when he let loose with that voice of his in “If Ever I Would Leave You.” My wife was still humming it days later! Steve Sussman as Pellinore gave one of his most adroit performances of the year. And I cannot say too much about the brilliance of Beth Shilakes as Guenevere. Simply put, she brought me to tears. Her voice, the depth and range of her character…I saw the show in Stratford last year, and after Beth’s performance, I can’t remember a thing about the Stratford production.
This is not to minimize the contributions of all the others in the cast: The orchestra was wonderful, the direction deft, and the choreography effective. Hayley and Allison Boggs were a treasure, and Mike and Pam Dundas were obviously enjoying their roles. Tom Shilakes effectively captured the growth and conflict of Arthur, and Garett Harris was villain enough to get booed on his curtain call… the list goes on!
Community Theatre…It’s all about the Connections!