Inducted into the Dayton Theatre Hall of Fame, August 9, 2014.
I love archeology! The study of old things. Old and extremely valuable things. Through carbon dating, I discovered that in early September of 1992, over two decades ago, Barbara Jorgensen first appeared on the theatre scene of Dayton Ohio. She auditioned for Eileen Gault at the Dayton Playhouse and was cast as Sarah the cook in The Man Who Came To Dinner and shared the stage with me, Jim Payne, Blake Senseman, Kay Frances, Virginia Garcia, Tina McPhearson, Patti Bell and a cast of thousands. Even in that "cast of thousands," Barbara stood head and shoulders about the crowd.
We became fast friends in a very short time. When Barbara did my Hall of Fame induction, she said that I swept her off her feet and took her breath away in that production, but it was actually the other way around. Barbara's innate talent, smoky velvet voice and her force as an actor was immediately recognizable not just by me but by everyone she came in contact with. The next show at the Playhouse was Broadway Bound and we coerced her into dying her beautiful premature white hair brown and into auditioning. The rest is Dayton Theatre History. Her hair has never returned to its original color and her husband David had learned to occasionally make his own meals.
Not only is Barbara a brilliant actor, she is an impassioned Board Member and an unstoppable community volunteer. As Guild Membership Chairman and undisputed Queen of the Box Office, Barbara has actually become the face of the Guild, greeting almost every audience member by name.
Barbara has been involved as an award winning actor, producer, and volunteer not only at the Dayton Theatre Guild, but also with the Dayton Playhouse, Young at Heart Players, and First Stage Productions. She continues to serve as a Docent at the Dayton Art Institute. She taught acting classes at the University of Dayton Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and under the direction of Fran Pesch, played a significant part in preparing law students at the University of Dayton through the use of role playing.
I have been extremely fortunate to work with and around Barbara as a director, a set designer or costumer in over twenty shows. Barbara is the definitive "Ado Annie"...She's just a gal who can't say no…which...is lucky for Dave... but even luckier for the Dayton Theatre community. Whatever task has been placed before her she has accepted and done beautifully and professionally.
When I first talked about the possibility of creating the DayTonys and a Dayton Theatre Hall of Fame, Barbara was part of the creative team along with Carol Finley and Fran Pesch.
Directing, working with and watching Barbara on stage has been a joy. She has been my Queen Mary, my sister, my mother-in-law, a survivor of 9-11, and my girlfriend. She has been a crazed drunken Irish mammy, a mean spirited nursing home superintendent, a slap-happy Southern florist, an unflappable German grandmother, the ghost of an English char woman, and almost my Golda Meir.
The one drawback, if it is a drawback, is that Barbara is first and foremost a lady. A dignified lady. A lady who was unable to say the "F" word, even in a script. We got very close in The Cripple of Innishmann when she mastered the term "Fecker, fecking, feck..." But the actual "F" word... not so much. I directed Barbara in Collected Stories. She played Ruth Stein, an award winning novelist, who in the first pages of the script has to use that term. A misguided student, played by Katrina Kittle, calls from outside the building asking for Ruth's apartment number and Ruth yells out the window, "3F...F...F...F...as in F-ing can't believe this."
Barbara simply could not get the word to fall from her lips. At one performance she came close, until she noticed a former 5th grade student in the audience and she just could not do it.
She was somehow able to spew that invective in her performances of The Gin Game. Maybe one just has to have Chuck Larkoski on the other side of the table as a target.
Should the arise to use the dreaded F-word... I offer a few alternatives, just in case the need arises... Fine, Fun, Fantastic, Fair, Faithful, Favored, Famous, ... Friend.
That being said... Barbara... you f-ing take MY breath away.
It is my honor to hereby induct Barbara Jorgensen into the Dayton Theatre Hall of Fame.
-- Greg Smith