Community Becoming Family – Ashley Larrimore

When I was first asked to write for the Stage Stories Scrapbook, I searched my brain for humorous anecdotes and found there were many; revealing wardrobe malfunctions, unintentionally overheard quips caught by a live mic, or countless backstage shenanigans I could talk about. But those are not the things I would choose to write about my experience with theatre. My experience is a story about community becoming family. 

My love for the stage began as a child, as many such great loves do. I was involved in school theatre until graduation, when I joined the world of academia and forgot about theatre entirely.

Ashley Larrimore, right, in Drowsy Chaperone.

I did not even know that community theatre existed until a cast mate from a high school production sent me an audition notice for Northumberland Players’ Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor™ Dreamcoat in 2016, over a decade since my last performance. Our high school music teacher was conducting the band, and she did not need to twist my arm to convince me to join her at the audition.

I was elated to be cast in the show! I expected some laughs, to learn a few things, and to enjoy the applause. What I did not expect was becoming a part of something much bigger than that.

After the curtains closed on Joseph, I could not wait to do it all again. I was even more elated to be cast in Sister Act the following year, Drowsy Chaperone after that, and CHICAGO most recently. I even tried my hand at acting without the music in the dinner theatre, A Comedy of Tenors, which hold some of my fondest stage memories. I became completely caught in the whirlwind of ups and downs that only theatre lovers understand, and I continue to love every minute of it. 

Ashley Larrimore and Evan Soutter in A Comedy of Tenors.

In 2020, I was forced to finally face some truths about my family that I had been avoiding and make the heartbreaking decision to leave my marriage. This was an unbelievably isolating time, a time that I did not handle the most gracefully.

I did not realize how important the Northumberland Players had become to me until I moved to Cobourg as a broken soul and watched as so many members of this wonderful community reached out to pick me up and put me back together. People I had met though work on various shows opened their homes and their hearts to me, made me and my boys members of their bubble families, brought gifts, sent messages, laughed with me virtually, and invited me for distanced outdoor visits.

I am absolutely touched by the outpouring of support I received from this group of people who care first and ask questions later. You’ve got me, Northumberland Players, and I will always love and support you right back!