The Monroe Community Players, started by Marie and Bill Smith 75 years ago. It’s hard to believe isn’t it? They are still going strong after all these years. There have been pandemics, pauses, and economic crises. And yet, they are still viable. I can remember my first players experience. My father-in-law invited me in during Fiddler on the Roof to play in the pit orchestra. I thought sure what the heck? Why not? The music was fun. The people were very interesting. I was hooked immediately. A couple of years later when they ran out of funds to pay conductors, I ended up musically directing Guys and Dolls and later South Pacific. I did both of these without any paid musicians and a mix of adults and high school students. I also did these with little babies swaddled on my chest, breastfeeding!
I can remember that we really caused a stir with that because we weren’t paying anyone. I can remember telling students that they were being paid in experience which was way more valuable in the long run. I remember telling them that show experience was not common but very valuable. Several of my students ended up going into careers with music. We were all very dedicated. We rehearsed constantly. I always brought lots of baked goods and gave them out as rewards for good answers to questions like ” who knows what this cue is for?” Everybody got very good at homing in on the details and we would end up passing out baked goods like crazy. I can even remember when I started getting febrile with strep in the middle of a performance. I kept waving my arms until I just couldn’t anymore and had to be carried off the podium! That’s how badly i wanted to see it through!. I just kind of lilted off the podium at the last of the applause.
Even after those dramatic incidences, I continued to either play in the pit or direct the orchestra. I loved it. As I got busier and my practice grew, I had less time to do it though. I have missed those times.
Tonight we gather together to celebrate the last 75 years with word, vignettes, and songs. There will be a vast array of humans at all different ages, each with a different story to tell. I can’t wait to here what they have to say.