Before loving theatre, I was an avid roller skater. We lived next to a roller rink called, yes, Gay Blades, and skating was my favorite thing in the world. Only later did it seem an odd name, since roller skates are far from ice blades, but at the time, nobody cared. It was a large barn-like structure with gorgeous wood floors around which we skaters waltzed and schoddished and swept backwards and forwards to all sorts of music as our skating expertise grew. My skate dance teacher, Kenny, enjoyed eating canned grasshoppers during our lessons. I never minded. I was becoming what the owner, Mr. Gould, called ‘a good skate’ and skating was my world. Then we moved to Bradenton where the skating rink had terrazzo floors, and I found theatre.
At Manatee High School I came into my own, doing plays for Mr Eugene Mazzone, being president of the Drama Club and becoming a mainstay of his theatre company. He was a great teacher, a kind man who had a dear wife going down slowly to Multiple Sclorosis. He smoked. I did many plays for him each year, and when I graduated with drama awards, he cheered me on as I went for and won the lead role of Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion at The University of South Florida in Tampa. It was the first summer Shaw Festival put together by Mr. Jack Clay, a gifted alumni of the venerated Northwestern University Theatre Department, and it defined my life at USF for the next four years as we did other Shaw Festivals and many great plays and musicals in which we theatre kids learned our craft.
The USO tour we did performing A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum took us to Greenland, Iceland, Newfoundland and Labrador, then finally to England for R & R. I fell in love with England, returned to USF to graduate in December of 1967, and gratefully headed to England at the invitation of Diz Disley and other friends in May of 1968. There, theatre gave way to music, and I toured folk clubs with Diz as I made my way through the feeling of destiny that pervaded my world and ultimately led me to Davy Graham.
Six years later I left England for the last time to perform with Andy Devine in dinner theatre, earning my Actors’ Equity card but hardly using it in the years to follow as music and motherhood took me along a path that made songwriting, radio theatre, playwriting and recording my own songs take precedence. It also included a two-year weekly radio program featuring youthful players doing folk tales I dramatized from books my grandmother sold in the Depression.
Moving to Washington from Florida, my sound grounding in theatre stood me in good stead to become an Artist in Residence with the Washington State Arts Commission for 14 years as I traveled doing residencies around the state, raising my beautiful daughter with the help of friends in LaConner when I had to leave for two weeks somewhere far from home. In LaConner, I started a children’s theatre company for which I wrote original musicals over 5 years involving almost every child in town and ultimately most of the townsfolks too. We had a lot of fun.
Mine hasn’t been a life constant in theatre featuring me doing many plays on many stages, but the early experiences filled me with purpose, interest, and ability to use the craft as a tool for education, entertainment and illumination, so that’s what I have done. Theatre and music combine to form teaching platforms that include environmental education. I am expanding the true story of “Femur, the Musical” from its initial concert- presentation to a full fledged theatrical production. I still love theate and I’m grateful to Dr. Jack Clay, Dr. Frank Galati, Dr. Peter O’Sullivan and my dear friend, actor Paul Massie, for encouraging me in all aspects of theatre expression. Only Frank is still on the planet. Maybe we will work together again. Wouldn't that be cool?