Lasting friendships have always been a part of community theater. Hang around theater people for long enough, and you’ll hear them refer to their theater “family.”
At Ralston Community Theatre, it’s literally true.
“A child or cousin or mom will do a show, talk about how they enjoyed it at home, and the next year another family member wants to be part of it,” said Todd Uhrmacher, longtime director at Ralston.
This summer, three young cast members from Uhrmacher’s high school theater classes are sharing the stage with their parents in the Cole Porter musical “Anything Goes,” which opens Friday for a three-weekend run.
“In our busy, hectic lives, its great getting to spend quality time with your child and do something you can share and talk about years from now,” said Anne Wattles, whose daughter, Anna Flairty, has a chorus part like her mom.
Anne was active in theater before marriage, family, school and work put her involvement on hold. She’s enjoying the return, and Anna has loved sharing the theater experience with her mother.
Mark Riggle says he was a “class clown type” growing up and always wanted to perform. Daughter Audrey Riggle’s involvement in theater provided the excuse for him to be cast as a ship’s captain. She’s in the chorus.
“That’s the cool thing, that Ralston Community Theatre mixes adults and kids,” Audrey said. “It’s a cool feeling, that my dad gets to be a part of this with me. I don’t have any other feeling that’s the same.”
Ben Allgire said he’s discovered through theater that he and his dad, Joe, are more alike than he ever guessed.
“Apparently we look the same, walk the same, talk the same. Cast members come up to me and say ‘you guys are twins.’”
For Joe, it’s good to see that his son is respectful to peers and adults, and that the kids he hangs out with are responsible and well-rounded.
Ben plays a Chinese Christian convert, while Joe plays the bishop who converted him. They’re key in a plotline involving gambling, stolen clothes and mistaken identities.
“I love that these kids like to be with their parents,” Uhrmacher said. “As a teacher, I see the opposite a lot. They’ll never forget it, having a positive experience together, even if they never do theater again.”
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