Roxy’s 29th Season Recalls Fond Memories of Past and Present Supporters

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on September 9, 2011

I just finished my stay-cation. The theatre had one of its rare dark weeks, so I made a visit to my dear old friends and former neighbors, Olen Bryant and Tom Brumbaugh. To spend a relaxed afternoon in their private oasis in New Deal is a treat I never pass up. Olen used to say it was 45 minutes door-to-door from their home on Georgia to his kiln in New Deal. But with time, things change and have built up between here and New Deal, west of Portland, making that 45-minute trip an hour-plus journey.

Olen again offers his incredible and unique art as a major part of our annual auction. I remember very clearly our second season Gala when Olen offered two of his signature masks for auction. Tom is the art historian who first brought to our attention that the Roxy is not an Art Deco structure, but rather Art Moderne.

I also took a few hours off to visit longtime Roxy supporter Mamie Jean Harper. Being in her company reminds me of the early days when I traveled by bicycle down Riverside Drive to the Carmike Cinema to meet Mamie Jean’s late husband, Johnny Harper. He was going to come to the Roxy and give us a walk-through and a heads-up tour of the building, since he was the man assigned to watch over the construction through its opening in ’47. Sadly, he was killed in an auto accident a few days later, so we never got the benefit of his hands-on knowledge.

Alice Cortner and her coterie of devoted devotees of bridge — Peg Daniel, Mary Virginia Ritter and Pat Schmidt — entertained me with conversation and chocolates for a few afternoons. Alice is a loyal friend, one I hold dear — and not just because, during her tenure at the Clarksville Academy, she would offer to her students and the Academy at large Monday evening special performances which enriched the students lives and paid our mortgage each month. Beverly Parker’s daughter was one of those students who, when her own babes were still in strollers, pined for them to be of an age to attend the theatre, growing up as she had done. Now Elizabeth Pugh’s girls, like the Marczak grandchildren, are Roxy regulars, attending as many productions as possible.

Okra is my sole solace from the hot summer heat. My braced and bespectacled gentleman with the gracious and beautiful wife have been my conduit for that particular green. No one has come forward with the usual bags of ugly tomatoes. I say “ugly,” but they are always the best-tasting. Mary Harpel would serve up tomato sandwiches during our numerous one-on-one brush-up rehearsals. I miss her, her company and her tomato sandwiches.

Saturday’s School of the Arts drama classes with dance and voice following, along with morning yoga from 8:30am until 9:30am, have begun. Frolic on Franklin, “Roxy Idol,” the Roxy Gala and our 29th season opener are next week.

See you at the theatre!

[John McDonald]

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