We had a great time at the 85th anniversary and archive event at the Ann Arbor District Library! There was a wonderful turnout of members from past and present, lively presentations and a look at the new A2CT archives put together by the AADL; a wonderful stroll down memory lane. Please make sure you check out all of the photos, posters, articles and comments on our special library site.
We've been speaking with many of our older members, asking them for their Civic memories, and what fun it's been! Here is an excerpt from Christina Tabaczka Hover and Victoria Hovers (daughters of long-time members Jerry & Helga Hover) reminiscence entitled Growing Up with Civic Theatre. the full transcript is at the bottom of this page.
Jerry & Helga Hover were involved with Ann Arbor Civic Theatre starting in the early 1950s. Helga found her way to the A2CT first performing the lead role in Laura in January 1951, which launched Jerry and Helga's 35 plus year relationship with A2CT. Their daughters Vicky and Chris were the children of A2CT. Civic created many wonderful memories for the girls throughout their childhood. Growing up with Ann Arbor Civic Theatre meant:
-Many hours at Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre during rehearsals, the smell of stage makeup, sawdust from set building, the unique smell of somewhat musty costumes, and the feel of scratchy wool seats on bare legs (girls wore dresses back then).
-Having your mother play the back end of the cow in Gypsy, with her partner, in the front end of the cow, Carol Quinnell, in 1964. They reprised their roles 22 years later for an anniversary production of Gypsy in 1986. This was Helga's last performance with Civic Theatre.
-Going to cast parties allowing them to stay up much later than they probably should have at Judy Dow Rumelhart's, Zeke Jabbour's and many others.
-Becoming familiar with names like Joe & Runelda Medrano, Sophie Farah, Don Stewart, Bob Seeman, Connie Avasharian, Zeke Jabbour, Carol Deniston, Howard Fox, John Kokalis, Bob Green, Sunny LaFave, Alice & Clan Crawford, Bev Pooley, Burnette Stabler, Whitred Cook, Jerry Patterson, Betty Ann Gould, Jerry Scofield, Dwight Stevenson, Bette Ellis, Phyllis Eshelman, and of course Ted and Nancy Heusel, all of whom were part of our extended Civic Theatre family.
-Chris' first ushering job at the age of 12, being terrified that long time head usher Joy Scarpuzza Stewart would find out how young she was!
As adults, Chris & Vicky now understand that A2CT provided a true community for their parents.
The date of the celebratory archive event has a poetic irony--the day after, April 14th, is the one year anniversary of Helga's death; we know her spirit was most likely with everyone that night.
Sue and Fred Beutler started volunteering at A2CT in the late 60s. Sue remembers that she met Fred at a party and he asked her on a date. (she was Sue Ireland at that time) She told Fred that she was busy doing a workshop and volunteering at Civic Theatre and if he wanted to see her, he'd have to tag along. And so he did. And so began their decades long involvement with A2CT. They worked primarily in the scene shop and doing props, but Fred was also our "staff photographer" for many years. And they performed in several shows. Their whole family shared the stage for "Skin of Our Teeth." In January 1969 Sue and Fred were married; they never went on a proper honeymoon--their honeymoon was working on props for one of our Ted Heusel-directed productions at Lydia Mendelssohn theatre. Sue talks passionately about the power of the community in "putting on a show." It takes a great deal of committed individuals and together a great show is produced. She says, "I really do think that Civic Theatre is a great reflection of the city of ann Arbor and all it has to offer."