The Online Journal for Center Stage Playhouse
by Lucille Loiselle…
It was 1981 and I was sitting in the Laundromat, watching my delicates go ‘round and ‘round when in walked this really tall, nice-looking guy who asked if the owner was present because he wanted to leave a flyer for a show he was directing (The Odd Couple). But he has manners and doesn’t want to leave the flyer without permission for the honor. Boy, was I impressed! (In years to come, this young man would be my son Motel in Fiddler on the Roof – my darling Heshella!). But since other flyers were in the Laundromat, I said I didn’t think it would be a problem if he left a few. He did, said “Thank you,” and left. And no, sad to say, I did not go see that production.
A while later I found a flyer for Grease under the windshield wiper on my car. I took it off and threw it in the back seat! A few days later, while cleaning out the car (See? I do clean something occasionally!) I found the flyer for Grease again. So I said to myself: “Self, make the call.”
The first person I spoke with at Center Stage was Donna Bellone (couldn’t get a better introduction to the group!). There was a general meeting that very night and Donna suggested I come by. So I did…. Little strange to go to grounds for a State Mental facility to a building called “The Rehab,” but I was undaunted.
I walked in, and a really nice young man came up to me and said “Mumble, mumble, mumble, mumble.” And I, ever quick on the uptake, said “What?” He again said, “Mumble, mumble, mumble,” and I, not wanting to confuse him, again said, “What?” Finally we communicated and he said “Hi – My name is Ed Friedman, I am Vice President of Center Stage … welcome to our meeting.” (Everyone, please note: this is a standing joke between Ed and me over the past 31 years. This anecdote is told with great love and respect!)
Grease was in full production and the woman who was to play Ms. Lynch had a wedding that conflicted with a performance so I got a call to come by and audition. I was given the part of Ms. Lynch and my life has never been the same, thank you very much!
In 31 years, this incredible group has provided me with opportunities to act (subject to debate), sing, produce, stage manage, costume, technical direct, and direct various and sundry productions at Center Stage. Hell, I even helped build sets (me, who can’t draw a straight line with a ruler, but I can wield a mean paint brush). The emotions have run the absolute gamut, but the end result has always been great pride in what we accomplished on and off the stage.
It was a very familial setting….. we became a family (yeah, yeah, I know, sounds trite, but it IS so true). That family that had been well established took me in as a new member, with all my foibles, faults and abilities. Hard work and laughter abounded and I couldn’t believe that these “every day” people possessed theater knowledge, know-how, and theatrical talent!
The years flew by so quickly, in retrospect. I was privileged to be a member of the group, a member of the Board of Directors, a Vice President, and a President. Those were great honors, but I have to say that the greatest honor was the group entrusting several productions to my directorial hands: Assistant Director of Wait Until Dark and Director for: Come Blow Your Horn (“Who shot the couch?!”), Tribute (which still owns my heart), The Uninvited (weirdest portrait in the world!), Two By Two (such an unadulterated JOY!) , Rumours ( the iciest, stormiest tech week ever!) and Don’t Dress For Dinner (“it’s a freakin orgy” – Thanks for that incredible ad lib, John Pizzolo!) P.S.: If you think waiting to hear if you were cast is nerve-wracking, try waiting for the call to tell you whether or not you were chosen to direct a show you love… Argh!)
My deep gratitude to Tom Kramer and Abbe Harkavy for giving me the opportunity to do Matron Mama Morton in Chicago (the only show my parents ever saw me in… the whole family came from California and Massachusetts to see me! Elise Godfrey as Velma Kelly, dressed in a bustier, fish-net stockings and high heels, sat on my Dad’s lap and poured on her heat…My Dad LOVED it. My mother? Not so much! My Dad talked about that for years! And always with a great big smile on his face!)
So life at Center Stage Community Playhouse was full of ups and downs (mostly “ups”), tension and laughter ( mostly laughter), disagreements and love-fests (mostly love-fests) and never without fail: a great production each and every time.
But the best part? The people. The cherished friends I found there who are still the most important and valuable people in my world today. Hell, even the ones with whom swords might have been crossed were there for a reason and a lesson to be learned…so they count too.
The years have flown so quickly, but the memories and the songs linger on. So for all that it was, for all the golden years, for all the cherished individuals……. It’s been a privilege and a joy. Thank you, Center Stage!