“Fall: to descend freely by the force of gravity.” - Merriam-Webster's dictionary
The year was 1992 and we were days (minutes, hours) from opening a Yorkshire Playhouse musical at the York High School Theater. This show was a monumental task that took a village to pull together, and what a village we had! The show was “Music Man.”
First, some background. In those days, the playhouse didn’t have dedicated performance space so we would produce plays at the Legion Club or the Chances R beer garden and the summer musicals were performed at the high school. Constantly moving scenery, costumes and people around required many volunteers, but they were in abundance. This particular summer was no exception.
The show was to be directed by a former drama director at York College. She held auditions and cast the show. Soon after, she resigned her position at the college and the production and moved to Omaha where she served as stage manager at a theatre in the Old Market area.
Stepping in for the production was none other than Joe Berry. Those who remembered Joe were thrilled that he agreed to come out of “retirement” and take over this production. Sadly, Joe passed away in 2002, but his memory is still alive and well for many of us.
I remember Joe best sitting on the first row of the theatre and banging his cane on the orchestra pit cover to get our attention. Ok, my attention. You see, I was cast as Marian the librarian which is a dream role for a young(ish) soprano.
Back to the fall.
I had a major costume change just before the last scene and as many of you know, that can be very stressful. This was our first dress rehearsal and I was back stage getting into my white dress for the final bridge scene. I had a crew of people helping me, but it still seemed to take forever. I was running back stage to get into place and tripped on a set piece and fell - flat on my face. I whacked my nose badly and blood started gushing all over my white dress.
The next night there was glow tape everywhere.
I was cleaned up, the dress laundered and the show opened on time to great audiences every night, but it never would have happened without a dedicated cast, phenomenal crew and consummate director. All volunteers. That’s how community theater works. A group of people coming together, putting in long hours and having more fun than they ever imagined while developing friendships that literally last a lifetime.
I’ve been honored and privileged to play more than a dozen characters on the Yorkshire Playhouse stage and in every one of the productions I have fallen.
…as Sonia, Marian and Lizzy, I fell in love
…as Baker’s Wife, I fell into the Prince
…as M’Lynn and Amanda, I fell apart
…as Mrs. Boyle, I fell to my death
All my experiences both onstage and back stage have been a joy. If you’ve never volunteered for a show, you should consider it. There are many, many jobs, both large and small and no experience is necessary, but the experience you gain can never be matched.
This blog post was written by Sue M. Roush.