A couple of weeks ago, Randy and I attended the Season Announcment Party for the Springer Opera House, Georgia's Historic State Theater. I grew up in the Springer. It was my home away from home. I would eat, sleep, and breathe the Springer as a teenager looking for a place to fit in, a place where I was free to be me. I found that inside the walls of the most magical place I have ever known. It wasn't until much later that I realized that it wasn't the building with it's deep greens and reds. It wasn't the velvet seats that I carefully placed in the upright position as others left Emily Woodruff Hall. It wasn't the winding staircase that leads you to the second floor. It wasn't the high ceilings with it's majestic windows and heavy drapes. It had nothing to do with esthetics of the 146 year old building that drew me in and caused me to feel the greatest sense of security, love, and hope that I had ever known.
It was the people.
It was Amy Bishop in the Academy office who gave me bandaids, Motrin, a place to take a nap, and a willing ear.
It was Danielle Patterson who made me feel like I was one of the girls, lovingly guiding me into adulthood while protecting my childhood.
It was Paul Pierce who was ready with "atta girl", a ghost story, a comforting face in season auditions, and a hug.
It was Dona Pierce teaching me how to freely be me. How to wear my own style with confidence. And how to be an independent woman.
It was countless teachers, TAs, and interns like Sally VanderGheynst Baker, Lisa Cesnik, Shane Peterman, Karen Estrada, the Colons, Casey Hopkins, Darci Mills, Erin Collins, Jens Rasmussen, Becca Woolbright Beck, Susan Grantham, Kristin Metcalf, Jeff Holbrook, and Rearcous Smith.
It was Ron Anderson.
In my whole life, in every experience I recount, in the hardest, easiest, best, worst, happiest, and saddest moments of my life, Ron Anderson was right there teaching me how to live in that moment. He was teaching me how to use the good, the bad, the ugly. He was loving me through hard things. He was living life with me and countless others in a selfless, authentic way that lent itself to trust and love.
THAT is the Springer Opera House. It has always been the people. It has always been the community, the family, the genuine love of each other that made the Springer home.
And that Thursday night, as we carried on, missing the strong and fearless presence of Ron, I was reminded that it is the people who make the Springer the most magical place on earth. I could feel him there, see his hands, that tall and proud head, those knowing eyes, and those big ole' ears. I could hear his voice and his laugh. He would have loved the full house, the celebration, and the spirit of the evening.
146 years of the Springer meaning business. Of patrons filling the building to hear the next season, because that is what we do. 146 years of blockbuster hits, meaningful stories, preserving the past and guiding the future. 146 of loving people for who they are. 146 years of celebrating humanity, history, and this glorious thing called "art." As I have heard Paul Pierce say many a time, "it's what separates from the cave men."
See the complete 2017-2018 season here.