Saturday mornings are usually reserved for sleeping in and doing laundry around here, but this past Saturday was different. My 10-year-old twins and I went to see a performance of The Wizard of Oz at our local Barn Lot Theater.
The theater is located just off our town square in a remodeled building that once housed a car dealership. Before it found a home there, performances were held at an outdoor theater. Over the years community members have donated their time and talents to perform plays like Steele Magnolias and Barefoot in the Park. Not only does the theater give local talent a chance to shine, but it also exposes children from a rural area to the arts.
Ever since I outgrew my childhood fears of the Wicked Witch, I have come to love The Wizard of Oz. On my more hectic days I’ve been known to hum the Scarecrow’s theme song, If I Only Had a Brain. The play was made even more enjoyable because in small towns like mine it’s likely I’ll know most of the actors and actresses.
Kate Shirley, the niece of a close friend of mine, played Dorothy. She was wonderful and it wasn’t hard to spot her mother beaming on the front row. In fact, the reflection of love and pride on her mother’s face was almost as much fun to watch as the play itself. That same expression appeared on my sister-in-law’s face when her son Price had his stage début as the Mayor of Munchkinville.
I couldn’t help but wonder if Price noticed that his aunts, cousins, parents, and grandparents occupied a full three rows of seats. He’s only 9, so I doubt if it occurred to him how many people dropped what they usually do on Saturday mornings in favor of something much more important: supporting family.
And that’s what community theater is really about. It’s friends and family entertaining each other, supporting each other, and sharing a few moments of happiness, laughter, or sorrow together through the venue of a play.
If you’re lucky enough to have a local theater, find a way to help support it. You’ll find it truly is one of those gifts that keep on giving.