Sunday, November 15, 2009


Elyria – The halls and Auditorium of Elyria High School were filled with young and old Saturday as the Theatre Alumni came together to celebrate the Theatre’s 60th birthday.

Tom Kelley, one of the events organizers, said that the reunion celebration planning began about a year ago. “We knew that they would be demolishing the Theatre and we knew that there would be a lot of alumni that would love to see the place one more time.” Kelley said the group really kicked into gear within the last couple months and the event grew larger then they had expected. “We provided tours for people through the school that ended inside of the Theatre. We thought maybe we’d have 30 to 50 people go through but we ended up with over 100 people, some were graduates from the 50’s and 60’s who haven’t been back to the school since then.”

Kelley said that many of the alumni traveled from all over the United States and around the world. Although there were alumni who flew in from as far away as North and South Dakota, David Weiss was the hands down winner of the “Who traveled the farthest” award. Weiss flew in Friday from Singapore and was due to fly back Monday morning.

Weiss, a 1975 graduate, was involved in Theatre at EHS for 3 years. “I knew growing up as a child that I wanted to be an actor. It wasn’t until I came to Elyria High in 1973 that I was able to actually pursue that dream. Being here I also learned to have a passion for Theatre because it was so important to everyone involved and because I realized that this was going to be my life’s work.”

Weiss jumped right in his first year playing a small part with one line. He went onto his larger rolls during his second year and then had a lead roll during his senior year in the production of The Miracle Worker. Throughout his time at EHS he not only acted but he worked on set designs and anything else that was needed. “Everybody did what needed to be done to make the productions successful. That is something that has helped me in my professional life today – I still rely on the sense of community that we had in this Theatre of how do you get a whole bunch of people to work together to put on a show. Now I do multi-million dollar shows – I create theme park attractions, they’re huge shows but it’s the same thing. They’re huge shows, I have a number of people and we have a show that has to get done, we have an opening date and we have an audience that’s going to come through so my work here really prepared me for my current profession.”
Traveling so far was not going to stop Weiss from attending the reunion celebration; he said this was too important to miss. “It was very important because of what this time in my life meant to me and how it really established who I was as a person and in my career. It was also to see people that I haven’t seen in 35 years – these people were very special and it’s great reconnecting with them this weekend.”

Pam Christian has served as the Drama Director at Elyria High School now for 12 years. Christian graduated in 1974 and dreamed of the day that she would have the chance to hold the job as Drama Director. Christian said that being part of the Drama Department is more of a cultural environment. “Not just in terms of cultural arts, but a culture of growth, support and respect. A place for kids to grow and to be comfortable with who they are and accept each other – all walks of life. These kids not only accept each other, but they celebrate their differences.”
Christian said that Elyria has been very supportive of the Theatre going back 6 decades. “Back in the very beginnings of this school they had The Players Club and the fact that tonight we’re celebrating our 60th anniversary when other schools their programs wax and wane over time – this community and the administration has always supported our Theatre. I think it’s because they understand the innate value of it – I think they understand the value of the program to the kids.”

Allen Marcum Jr. is a senior at EHS and has been with the Drama Department for only two years but says he has benefited greatly from the short time. “I was attending the Beck Center studying acting when I was a junior here when Mrs. C asked me to join Drama. My first time on stage was here in my junior year and although I was very nervous just before the show, as soon as I stepped on that stage it all went away and I was fine.”
Marcum, who plans to double major in college in Theatre and Pre-Med, said that being in Drama Club has helped him be more confident in himself. “Before drama I would be nervous about giving a presentation in class or doing anything in front of people – afraid of what they might say or think. Now I just don’t care, I can stand in front of an audience and give it my all without worrying.” Members of the Drama Club spend so much time together Marcum said, that everybody becomes like family. Just 3 weeks ago one of the cast members found out that his sister was killed in a car crash in southern Ohio, Marcum said that was a difficult time for everyone. “That was a rough couple of weeks. He was suffering so we were suffering. He’s family to us so everyone came together and did whatever we could for him. For the first two weeks it was hard for us to concentrate but since we had each other, we were able to get it together. I also think that it shows how much this group means to him that he was able to go through rehearsals and he is here tonight performing. That is how much we are attached to this Theatre and to each other. It’s very special.”
Gene Dulmage was the Drama Director at EHS for 6 years. Dulmage and other past Directors were presented with a gift Saturday night for their part in building the Drama Club. During his speech Dulmage stole a line from The King and I that brought a tear to the eye many of the alumni. Dulmage said that he found this to be true through his years of teaching; “That if you become a teacher, By your pupils you’ll be taught.”


Editors Note: Two quick notes… If you check out the PHOTO GALLERY you will see what activity the cast members participated in shortly after Saturday night’s performance. They made a quick trip to Mrs. Christian’s home.
Finally, when Mrs. Christian was passing out the gifts to former Directors, she presented one to the wife and son of Frank Toth. Mr. Toth, who passed away earlier this year, was a force in keeping the Theatre alive at Elyria High School. While attending EHS I remember having Mr. Toth as a teacher and remember him to be a funny, kind and caring man. He helped me in side projects that I worked on while at EHS and I remember him to be one of the teachers that always encouraged students to pursue their dreams. RIP Mr. Toth.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Orbitz Coupons