This past week, I found myself linked in a post from one of my old LMH acting compatriots. When I followed it to see why I was linked in the post I was delighted to discover our alma mater was launching a production of Our Town — which they had not performed in 23 years. This was important to both my self and my friend because in that 1991 production we played the lead couple of George Gibbs and Emily Webb.
When word spread about the current production on FaceBook many of the old cast and crew connected and reminisced about the time we had with the play. For all the wonderful simplicity of the Our Town's set-design, our production was a monumental undertaking. At the time Lancaster Mennonite High School had no stage on which to perform a drama, the current fine arts center was still months away from opening. So, the cast and crew had to come together and help build a stage in the school's old chapel space (currently the cafeteria). It was probably the combination of the hours spent preparing the production space and the depth of Wilder's script which cemented the Our Town experience into our collective psyche. Personally, I can say the memories of that production are among the most vivid of all my moments on stage. In fact, I still display our cast and crew photo in my office, 23 years later. This photo has became a wonderful point of connection between past and current productions. I scanned the image and emailed it to the current director, but my little gesture got trumped. In a moment of inspiration, our “Emily” printed out a copy of the photo and delivered it to the current cast and crew, along with a congratulatory card and some snacks.
Along with the reminiscing came a compulsion to see the current production for myself. In some ways I'm sure the ache of nostalgia played a role in this desire, but I also felt the need to witness this current cast and crew enter into a joy similar to the one our 1991 group experienced. Last night I was able to travel out to Lancaster along the same path I drove on Monday mornings for two years. I was accompanied by my daughter and my parents. It was especially gratifying to have my daughter along for the experience, as she had never been to LMH before. Her response after the play was, “This place is amazing.”
Aside from being treated to a phenomenal performance, I was also able to several connections. One of my old teachers, who happens to be the father of one of my dearest friends, was at the performance with his wife. I hadn't seen them in over a decade, but I was reminded again last night of what special people they both are. The current Assistant Superintendent of the wider Lancaster Mennonite School remembered me from my time at LMH and we had a wonderful chat (he also tried to recruit my daughter, to which I am not adverse). As a special bonus I got to meet the current director and take a picture with the current “George” (who graciously chatted with a guy who played his role seven years before he was born).
It was a beautiful evening, reminding me how special my alma mater is.