Support Comes in All Forms

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on February 5, 2016

I’ve been, for the last 33 years, living with the idea that I didn’t mind those who didn’t help us but that I loathed those who have gotten in our way. Even with a more forgiving New Year’s resolution, I’m now deeply bothered by those who take for granted what good comes from live theatre and the clout this city gains by having a professional company presenting some splendid theatre.

On my very first day here in Clarksville, I got out on the marquee to remove “The Blues Brothers” from the marquee, where it had been for quite a long time.

A car stopped and someone called up to me saying something to the effect of, “You better come see us before you open up that building!” After 33 years, I don’t remember the exact words, but I remember the hard-edged sentiment.

I rather wished they had said, “Welcome to Clarksville! Glad you’re bringing life back into this old theatre, but do check in with us before you open it to the public. Thanks!” But it didn’t happen that way.

It could, if you let it, get you down. I think of Walter Brennan speaking to Gary Cooper in the Frank Capra film Meet John Doe: “Don’t let the helots get you.”

We did have some support in the beginning. There were the Harry Orgains, the Tim Ghiannis, the Marge Lillards, the Jim Manns and the Mamie Jean Harpers — but these people were few and far between.

What’s lacking here is the fool’s optimism, the kind which builds a baseball stadium in the center of downtown Memphis or creates a market square in the center of downtown Knoxville or an aquarium in the heart of Chattanooga. We have no fools (except maybe those two on the corner of Franklin and First), yet support has come.

Most recently, Clarksville Academy’s Challenge-Based Learning group, under the superb tutelage of drama instructor Amanda Pitt, brought six young students (Annie Bennett, Madeline O’Connor, Ellie Rocconi, Cassidy Stephenson, Emma Thomas and Day Weaver) to assist Amber Wallace (expert painter lovingly referred to as Team Xerox) in painting The Three Little Pigs’ houses and restoring a drop from Beauty and the Beast, all the while giving them knowledge of the basic art of scene painting.

We annually collect, during performances of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues, donations for Clarksville-Montgomery County SafeHouse and the Magdalene House in Nashville. We collected over $500 for homeless veterans via Operation Stand Down after my final performance as Scrooge.

The scorching Tony-nominated 1930s musical revue Blues in the Night opens tonight (Friday) at 8pm for a pay-what-you-can preview. All tickets not pre-sold at the regular ticket price will go on sale at 7:30pm this evening for a $5 minimum donation. Performances continue February 6, 12, 19 and 20 at 8pm; February 11, 17 and 18 at 7pm; and February 13 at 2pm.

Your final chance to see Little Red Riding Hood & Friends is Saturday at 2pm.

See you at the theatre!

[John McDonald]

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