By Dee Fisher
By Dee Fisher
A big "thank you" to the audiences who have come to see Big River at Van Wert Civic Theatre the last two weekends! You have been very gracious and receptive, and all of us onstage and behind the scenes appreciate your patronage, kind words after each show, and, especially, your applause. I've often said that applause is addictive. Several performers new to stage work have found out that very thing since we opened two weeks ago, that's for sure.

Big River will have three more performances this week: Thursday, Feb. 7; Friday, Feb. 8; and Saturday, Feb. 9. As of this writing, there are still some seats available at each performance, but don't wait too long to make your reservation. Take your honey along with you-it would make a nice early Valentine's Day date!

You can call the theatre box office at (419) 238-9689 between 2:00 and 6:00 each afternoon to reserve your seats. When you do call, be sure to thank the tireless volunteer box office workers. Without their help, running the box office would be a strategic nightmare.

And that thought brings me to my next soap box speech. I've been talking to any number of theatre patrons these past two weeks about the performances, graciously accepting their sincere compliments, and I've been reminding them of how lucky we are here in the small town of Van Wert, Ohio, to have the access we do to quality entertainment, both amateur and professional.

One comment made to me again and again was how much talent people have seen on stage in VWCT's latest production. Sometimes I think we take all that for granted. "Oh, of course, I enjoyed the play/musical. I always enjoy the entertainment at VWCT." Do you realize how rare it is to have consistent, quality theatre when all the participants are volunteers, with other jobs and commitments? More to the point, does our community understand the kind of work that goes into each production?

Our next production, Weekend Comedy, held auditions last Sunday and Monday evenings. With a little tweaking and perhaps a few phone calls, the cast should be set by next week. Rehearsals will begin, and the directory, Doug Grooms, will work around the actors' work and family schedules, encouraging them to get lines memorized outside of rehearsals so that he can better use their time together working on putting everything together.

Rehearsal time is short-with this production, there are four weeks before the final rehearsals. In those four weeks, the director and his volunteer staff (props gatherers, costumers, set builders, lighting and sound operators) are working in their spare time (eh? What's that?) to put together a full-length theatrical production. God forbid anyone gets sick!

Why do we do this? Why do the volunteers at VWCT consistently put themselves through this show after show, month after month, year after year? There are two reasons for this, I believe. One reason is that these volunteers have a true love for the theatre, and, specifically, for this theatre. We don't all like doing the same things, of course.

Some of us are performers who enjoy that applause I was talking about earlier. Others just enjoy being a part of something bigger than themselves, and they are the ones who prepare the punch and coffee, who usher in the audience, and who help with constructing sets and assembling costumes/props.

The other reason, and it's a strong one, is bound up with the sense of community and friendship that pervades the theatre. We're all extended family, with all the good and bad that go along with family relationships. There are ups and downs, but, in the end, family is family.

The theatre family here in Van Wert has worked for over fifty years to bring quality theatrical productions to the rest of the community, and, God willing, that will go on for another fifty years and beyond, long after the current volunteer have gone on to their final performance.

Okay, I'm off the soap box now.

Director Doug Grooms is finalizing the cast list for the next production, Weekend Comedy. This is a fun story of two couples from different generations who are forced to share a rental cabin for a weekend (through scheduling errors). How they get along (and don't get along) makes for an enjoyable two hours as you watch the clash of the generations! Weekend Comedy will open March 14 and run for eight performances, closing on March 24.

See you at the show!