Inducted into the Dayton Theatre Hall of Fame, August 9, 2014.
Eat your heart out, Pete Rose.
Those of you who know me well, know that there's very little chance of this NOT ending tearfully. I mean, I get weepy just thinking about getting weepy. So tonight, there's probably no hope for me.
And those of you who know me well, also know that humility is not usually in my skills-set, but tonight I am so honored and humbled to be counted among so may men and women I have admired and learned from over the years.
I am one of many who got our starts in Dayton theatre when we were children – and I believe I'm the first to be so honored. As Sarah told you, I was lucky enough to begin by doing summer theatre at Memorial Hall in the late 50s and early 60s. I was also lucky enough to cross paths with so many existing Hall of Fame members in my early years. At Memorial Hall I learned backstage etiquette from people like Nelson D'Aloia. In high school, my drama teacher was Jim Payne. I worked at Longfellow School, first with Dayton Children's theatre and then with the old Dayton Community Theatre; the musical director was Gil Martin (and one show featured Dodie Lockwood). When I was 17 I had the pleasure of doing my first show at the Dayton Theatre Guild with Fred Blumenthal and Bob Fish, and being directed by Ken Hardin. These were some of my early mentors, and I'm beyond thrilled to be counted among them as a peer.
And I value the fact that I have now become a "grizzled vet" in my own right. I hope I can teach younger theatre folk as effectively as I was taught.
After high school I left Dayton, spent time in college theatre (where one of my directors was Abe Bassett), went to Ringling Brother and Barnum and Baily Clown College and embarked on a professional career. And it was good, for many years. Equity dinner theatre was in its heyday and there was a lot of work for actors. I usually worked 40-45 weeks a year.
But the business changes, and eventually I dropped out and took my place in the "real world". I finished my college degree and built a nice career with Staples (your office superstore!). In the later 90s I moved back here to Dayton, and here I am tonight.
So...since I only have 3 minutes, I'd better move on to the thank yous. I thank every director and every actor I've encountered; there's not a one I haven't learned something from. And I thank the guy who nominated me (he knows who he is) and the Membership Committee for voting me in this year. And of course I'm eternally grateful to Tay and Jenny and Sarah and Nathan for understanding why I had to be gone in the evening so much of the time.
But mostly, I thank my parents – and by extension ALL theatre parents who drove us to auditions and rehearsals and performances. Who sat up late waiting for shows to be over so they could drive us home. Who (at least in my case) took us to Frisch's every night after the show so we could get something to eat, yada...yada...yada...
None of us could have done any of this without you.