Fiddler On The Roof Location: Washington Park Main Pavilion Time: 8:00PM
by Katie Evans
The beginning of Washington Community Theatre is quite an interesting story. The group was actually started by just a few folks who shared a mutual love of the stage and performing arts. Elaine Frost was one such person, and today she continues to grace the group with her knowledge of music and vocal performance. She also has been cast for many roles (I'm sure there's more than she can name!) including Dolly in "Hello, Dolly!" and The Stepmother in "Cinderella." In the very first performance of "The Music Man" at the Main Pavilion at Washington Park, she played the part of Marion Paroo. She is not only one of the founding Mothers of the group but she is someone who I think all of the members of WCT feel is a Mother to us all during all the productions out at the Park. And since she is so well loved by us all, there is no one better to interview on this momentous occasion, celebrating Washington Community Theatre's 40th year at the Washington Park Main Pavilion stage.
How did Washington Community Theatre become the organization that it is today?The group actually began not as an organization but just as a few people, coming together to perform, and these folks began performing in 1969, at the Jewish Synagogue. They did not begin performing musicals until they came to the park. The story of how WCT came to be at the park is an interesting one.There had been a theater group prior to WCT that performed at the park, and the Washington County Park Commission granted them money to perform. However, the park commission had told this theater group that they would no longer fund their performances at the park. The group of performers (not formally called WCT yet) heard of the opening at the park pavilion and sought to gain the permission of the Park Commissioner, Bill Higgins to take over the park performances. The Park Commission agreed, and WCT was formed, and put on the first musical ever, "The Music Man." The Park Commission granted WCT $600 to put on the show, and that $600, plus a bit of money in the bank, is all that funded that first musical. From that year forward, WCT did not request any additional monies from the Park Commission and has not since that first performance. We have survived simply on ticket sales, patrons, ads, etc. And of course on the backs of those who come out and volunteer their time and efforts to be an active part of the group. That time and effort is priceless and is how the group continues to survive.
How did the group grow into what we all now know as WCT?After WCT performed the first musical at the park, they were asked to perform at Washington's Bicentennial celebration in 1976. They were given just two weeks to put together a show, and they did it. They were paid to perform this pageant, and this money was put toward the next year's summer musical. The pageant performance also helped to put the word out that this group meant business and that their business was putting on great shows for the public that featured local talent and were inexpensive and accessible to the community. So, by getting the word out there, the group grew, and continued to grow into what it is today.
Now, some questions about Elaine herself!
What was your favorite role you ever had?Dolly in "Hello, Dolly!" Now for those of you who know Elaine, and you can imagine how many shows she's been in in 40 years on that stage, it was probably pretty hard for her to pick which role she liked best. So, for her to be able to single out one role, she must really have enjoyed it. Her first musical role on the Park stage was Marion Paroo in "The Music Man." Consequently, this is actually the third time WCT has put on "The Music Man." A second run was done in 1996. Elaine could not recall who played the main roles in that production. But you can bet she was a part of that show, whether in a title role or not!
What do you hope for the future of WCT, and what is your advice to the young people of WCT?Obviously, this was kind of a silly question. She of course would love to see the group succeed and continue to put on productions out at the park, and continue to grow it's membership and fan base. This is no easy task in today's world. The group can continue to succeed with the help of dedicated members who are willing to "tow the line" so to speak and put in the effort needed to put together quality productions. In other words, be willing to help out behind the scenes as well as appearing on stage. Continuing to reach out to the young folks who form the future of the group and instilling in these young people the desire to continue to keep WCT going. Elaine is hopeful that during their time in the group, they will grow to love it so that they will desire to see it succeed in the future and be willing to do what it takes to keep it going. Also, another important part of continuing the group is to grow the support system that surrounds a group such as this, which includes patrons, fans, sponsors, advertisers, etc.
To sum it all up, as a founding Mother of Washington Community Theatre, Elaine wishes to see the group succeed for many years to come. As it was said in the beginning of this interview article, we sincerely love this woman and I think we can all say she is one of the people who are the glue that holds everything together. We love you, Elaine, and THANK YOU for being there to help bring into being this great organization that we are blessed to be a part of today. And while it is WCT's 40th anniversary, it is also yours, and anyone else who was there at the very beginning. So, Happy Anniversary to you all!
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Have you liked Washington Community-Theatre's Facebook page? If so, you are in the drawing for a pair of tickets to see "The Music Man." Please share this with your friends so that our Facebook page can reach 500 likes by June 24. Less than 40 people to go. Remember, all who like our page will be entered for the drawing.
Washington Community Theatre, Inc. is in search of directors for upcoming productions.
If you are interested in pitching your show idea to the board of directors, please contact Patricia B. Thompson at 724-225-0140.
Washington Community Theatre, Inc.
P. O. Box 994
Washington, PA 15301