In April 25 IssueRussell County NewsBy Debbie Bell, Columnist
I normally start every Monday making a day to day list of everything I have to do that week. Sometimes I find myself staring at a blank piece of paper. That is really depressing. Other times I have so much to do that there's no way that I can achieve all that I need to do. That is the kind of week I have had. I love to stay busy- you know what they say about idle hands. But, I also like to catch my breath, read, watch a favorite TV show, play with my grandson, or visit friends. I haven't had any time to think about anything deep or provoking to write about this week. So I'm going to write about something near and dear to my heart. Let's call it “My Tribute to Show Business”.
First, I must pay homage to one of the greatest daytime icons of all time, “The Guiding Light”. I was deeply disheartened when recently CBS announced that “The Light” would no longer shine. After a 72 year run (the longest in broadcast history) it has been canceled. The Guiding Light started as a 15 minute serial on NBC radio on January 25, 1937 and debuted on CBS TV in 1952. It focused on the Bauer family and their trials and tribulations.
As a child my mother listened on the radio with her mother. Then when we were finally lucky enough to acquire a TV, I would rush home from school to watch it with my mom. The show has been a mainstay in my life for as long as I can remember. I was a stay-at-home Mom, and 2 om everyday was when I would take my break from reality. My kids even watched with me form time to time- they certainly tell you who Reva and Josh are. My son, Fletcher, was named after one of my favorite characters.
During its 72 year run “The Guiding Light” highlighted many social issues including discrimination against women in the 1940's and teen alcoholism and drug abuse in the 1980's. It also raised awareness about postpartum depression, AIDS, Down Syndrome, Leukemia, and breast cancer. It was the first soap to introduce African-American characters, and to tackle the subject of marital rape. It also had its low moments like the cloning of Reva. But, like a loyal friend I stuck with it through good times and bad.
Many stars got their start on “Guiding Light”, such as James Earl Jones, Calista Flockhart, Kevin Bacon, Christopher Walken, and many others. With the onslaught of talk shows, court TV and more women working than ever before, the writing has been on the wall for years. It still a shock that the longest running show in broadcast history will not be on the air anymore come September. As an integrated part of my life, it will sorely be missed.
I knew as a child that all I ever wanted to do was act, sing, and draw. Let's just say I've always been the artistic, creative type. But in my hometown there was no venue or outlet for me to further these dreams and inspirations. The school I attended had no art classes, no drama department, no dance instructors, no music whatsoever. I had to stifle these dreams and let them lie dormant inside me.
Once my children were in middle school and high school I could foresee the empty nest ahead of me. A wonderful friend talked me into trying out for a part in a play at the Star Theater.
Doing so was one of the most fulfilling things I've ever done. In fact, I credit it for saving my life, or at least my sanity.
In the past to years or so that I have participated in many different plays direct and meet and befriend people from all walks of life. And, I was able to unleash those unrequited dreams of my youth.
Gary McGowan founded the Children's Theater at the Star and over the years I've watched these children blossom into such talented, well-rounded individuals.
His wife, Mary, the drama teacher at Russell County High School and one of the founding members of the Star has directed more plays than anyone there.
All walks of students make up the the drama class such as geeks, jocks, the have's, the have not's, cheerleaders, etc.
Normally In school these groups would break off into their own little cliques and bully each other. Not so in drama. These kids all come together as a family and learn to appreciate the differences in one another.
Todd Wilson is one of the greatest directors I've ever had the privilege to work with. He directs the most riveting, wonderful musicals that rivals anything I've ever seen in the big cities.
Then, we are lucky to have the Dance Shoppe with Marti Salee. What child doesn't like to express themselves with grace and movement?
In neighboring Adair County we have the Dream Depot. It is the most down home, family oriented, one of a kind places. We do skits and the occasional play but it mostly features local singers.
They feature all genres of music, from gospel to 50s and 60s, country and Broadway.
Just recently we did a Disney show featuring children from the area. One day my son opened up his mouth and beautiful sounds came out. I never knew he had a desire to sing, or even could. He's been singing at the Depot for a couple of years now.
My best friend is the president of the Depot as well as a fantastic singer so this place is very important to me.
Statistics and various studies have shown that children who participate in the arts excel in other areas of their lives. Their grades improve in other subjects, their social skills improve, as does their communication such as public speaking. And yet, when budget cuts have to be made in school, the arts are the first classes cut.
Most small towns are not as lucky to have what we have. Yet, sometimes after months of preparation and hard work the attendance at some of the shows are very small in numbers. I implore everyone to come out and see a show at the Star and the Depot.
In a small town we know everyone, or their faces, or one of their children.
Even our own Renee and Wade Daffron, Kim Haydon and the recently departed G.K. Gibson have graced the stage many times.
Sometimes we don't realize what we have until it is gone, like my beloved “Guiding Light.”
All of my friends are thesbians. My children have even dabbled in thesbianism. So I leave you with this, should thesbians be allowed to marry? What about bilingual people or homosapiens?
Til next time, Forward Ho!