A Stagecraft Journey………#238 (the 90’s)

Sandra Willson as Kendra Star

Sandra attaining her senior year at Chaparral High School in Anthony,  an outstanding academic student,  surmounting her older brother Robert in many aspects.   A social protector,  in that she was an advocate for her friends, even those with defalcations, always projecting a caring beam of aspiration to those whom surrounded her.   As an after school activity, a continuance of her cheerleading ambition acquired in Grammar School,  becoming a  member of the Anthony High School Cheerleading team,  but  discovering she was not always in favor with the high school sponsor,  the faculty member citing her disapproval,  seeing her smoking off campus.

Gary not too concerned, having been there as high school student,    but just  Prior to the  Friday Night school football game, the faculty sponsor informed Sandra she was excluded from participating with the Cheerleading team.  When informed,  her Mother immediately finding and  affronting Kris Kastler the principal of the school,   Jan demanding an explanation for Sandra’s non-participation, forcefully stating that her infraction was off campus and shouldn’t have any application to her participation.  The principal agreeing with Jan, reprimanding the faculty sponsor for her indiscretion,  Sandra making her cheerleading presence known.

Sandra as a member of the Performing Artist of Chaparral,  was selected for the featured role of Kendra Star, in the Jerome McDonough Play, “Addict”.   Gary,  when working at the Kiowa grade school,  having recognized Sandra’s enactment talent  ten years earlier,  in Norma Feaster’s  2nd grade class presentations.    The Addict  production portraying  the detriments of  youth’s in a community,  and their adherence to the addiction of drugs.   Gary and Jan traveling to Wichita for the  Chaparral Artist celebrated performance before  members of the Kansas Congressional body,  including the state’s Lieutenant Governor Gary Sherrer.  The high school cast’s enactment providing a meaningful message.

Keeping abreast with  activities in Wichita,  Gary again noticing a presentation in the Wichita Paper,  a subject of interest aroused.  For many years vacant,  the Orpheum Theater at 200 North Broadway was attempting a resurrection.   A Theatrical Enterprise was trying to raise money to revive its longevity,  the Wichita Community Theater and Center for the Arts actively involved in the project.   The paper announcing,  a musical production to be presented in the once prestigious but long abandoned structure,  a musical written by Wichita’s,  David and Kenneth Gale,  featuring local cast member,  entitled,   “ Frankenstein The Musical“.   Gary taking notice to a highlighted addition to the newspaper announcement,  “Due to the ongoing construction, it is advised that you bring a coat as the building is without heat” ,  an intruding dissemination to put in the newspaper.

.  Arriving , Gary was impressed with the aged structure,  the theater built in 1922,  an endowment of the cities past heritage.   Entering the lobby was analogous to stepping back in time,  the cold building showing remnants of its historic past.  The presence of a once proud theater organ sitting in the foyer, removed from its prominent stature inside,  the once snack amenities counter still in disrepair,  the building having a chilling effect,  in concert of keeping with the title of the  musical presentation.   The theaters spacious 13 hundred seating capacity,  a proud stage looking down on the lower level orchestra pit,  the balconies with their ornamental statues showing their age,  the figurines still symbolizing the décor of a colorful past era.

The musical was without orchestration, but utilizing a choral group with recorded effects,  the format not a matter of substance,  but a disquisition of the individual.   The audience receiving a critique pamphlet to be deposited upon leaving.   Gary finding this first production somewhat lacking in structure,  but the rationale was warranted.  This first production,  a journey’s start with endless possibilities, the attendance marking  support for a restoration of a once proud landmark and prominent icon of Wichita’s theater history.  The Journey home, Gary realizing he had attended the reincarnation of a living entity, a once proud theater destined for destruction,  brought back to life to live again, and proclaim its heritage….



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