I was introduced to the Northumberland Players in its very early days when I was still in public school. My father was heavily involved directing shows, building sets and even occasionally taking a starring role. My mother was also involved backstage with costumes, helping with make up, feeding people etc. and my sister starred in the very first musical they ever did, Dames at Sea! I personally wasn’t on stage until the ripe age of 12 when we did Noah and I played the monkey, but every member of my family has at some point graced the stage of a NP production.
As I said, my dad was very involved in the early years of the Players. He loved theatre and he instilled that love in me as well, taking me to Toronto year after year to see all the big musicals. He also let me tag along to watch his rehearsals at the East High School where he directed many musicals and later for the shows he did for the Players. Occasionally he even asked my opinion. Eventually he directed me in two high school musicals and in Side By Side By Sondheim for the Players. Loving theatre was a big part of our relationship.
My most treasured friendships have come from my involvement in NP and the people who influenced me throughout my life as well. When I opened the doors of my own business a few years ago it was members of the Players that were the first to support me. They still do.
But Valerie asked me for a memory so here is one that is an example of what I believe is the most wonderful thing about the Players. One evening, while onstage during a performance of Les Miserables in which I played Fantine, it quickly became apparent that my microphone was off. I would not have an opportunity to leave the stage and I had my big song coming up. At one point in the scene we had to line up with our heads bowed. Lucy Caldwell was standing right behind me. Without a word I lifted the back of my corseted top and she quickly and without missing a beat, turned on my mic and saved me.
I realize that in the theatre world this is not a terribly unique story but to me it epitomizes what the Players have come to mean to me: Support. During that magical show we had an army of amazing volunteers that were focused on supporting one another and it made for an incredible, life changing experience. It allowed us to be brave and that’s when theatre becomes great.
A few years later, 2 days before opening night of Joseph in which I played the Narrator, my father died. The people in that cast formed a circle around me, held me up and got me through. They were there to provide me with what the Northumberland Players have always provided me with. Support. If you are a member of the Players, I bet you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Thanks dad for giving me theatre and with that a lifetime of friendships