Sunday, May 26, 2024
By Micky Shearon Special to the Hood County News

Family bonds take center stage

The Granbury Opera House Presents “The Music Man” with ten families in the cast and crew

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The Granbury Opera House is once again abuzz with the magic of live theater as the Granbury Theatre Company brings to life the classic musical “The Music Man.” What makes this production truly special, however, is the remarkable presence of ten different families, each with at least two of their members involved in the cast or crew. With a total cast and crew count surpassing fifty individuals, the stage is set not only for a captivating performance but also for heartwarming tales of familial connections, shared passions, and the joy of collaboration.

For the Strittmatter family, being part of “The Music Man” has been a cherished opportunity to share the spotlight and the backstage world. Rochelle Strittmatter, who works backstage on the deck crew, expressed the joy of having all three family members involved.

“It’s been so much fun to have all three of us participating in ‘The Music Man,’” she said. Their daughter, Sandy Strittmatter, a senior in high school, is an active participant in both the Granbury Theatre Academy and GTC Main Stage shows. This production marks a significant milestone for the family as Rochelle’s husband, Ryan Strittmatter, takes on the role of Charlie Cowell for the first time. Rochelle summed up their experience, saying, “We appreciate this opportunity to have this special experience together!”

The Powderly family’s journey into the world of theater began when Thomas Powderly, then a senior in high school, invited his parents, Dan and Kathleen, to audition for a production in 2021. Despite initial reluctance due to their lack of acting experience, the trio took the plunge and were cast in “Fiddler on the Roof” at the Granbury Theatre Company. Their involvement in "Fiddler" marked the beginning of a new shared passion. Now, with “The Music Man,” the Powderly family celebrates their fifth show together. Kathleen Powderly shared, “We both recognize how blessed we are to be involved in something that means so much to Thomas.”

For the Baker family, “The Music Man” holds a special place in their hearts. Brent Baker and his wife Elizabeth were part of a production of the show at Weatherford College in 2009, alongside their son JT, who was just eight years old at the time.

“We saw ‘The Music Man’ in New York last year with our daughter, Hannah,” recalled Brent. “When Elizabeth heard GTC was doing it, she told me, ‘This might be the only show you ever get to do with your daughter.’ She pretty much sold me right then and there.”

Reflecting on the experience of performing with his wife and daughter and the new friendships formed within the cast, Brent said, “It’s a big undertaking, but it’s been a blast, especially to be alongside them. And now we have made even more friends in this awesome cast.”

Singing in harmony both on and off the stage is a tradition for the Brown family. Tracie Griffiths, an active company member at GTC, brought her father, Dave Brown, an experienced barbershop singer, into the fold for “The Music Man.” Dave is cast as the bass, Olin in the barbershop quartet, and Tracie plays the mayor’s wife, Eulalie. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect, as a Brown family reunion coincided with one of the show weekends, bringing together 20 family members from five states. Tracie highlighted the joy of the shared experience, stating that “it’s a memory we will cherish forever.”

Now paired in their second show, Laura and Kendrick Booth know how special it is for family members to perform in shows together.

"It’s fun to be in a show alongside my mom and share this experience with her!” said Kendrick Booth. “I love having our own separate moments in the show, but I love the moments that bring us together onstage just as much!

For Kate Rongey, the theater is a family affair that transcends generations. Her youngest children, Lila Joy and Lucas, aged 9 and 6 respectively, have stepped onto the stage alongside their mother for the first time in “The Music Man.”

“It’s been so much fun to introduce my youngest kids to the magic of theatre and watch their passion for the performing arts grow,” said Kate. Kate’s older son, Ben, who played Joseph in GTC’s production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” earlier this summer, is running the spotlight, completing the family’s involvement in this production.

The ripple effect of family involvement doesn’t stop at immediate relatives. Kent and Gigi Dean, inspired by their friends, Brent and Elizabeth Baker, who also had multiple family members in the production, found themselves drawn into the world of “The Music Man.”

Kent shared, “We thought it would be wonderful to share this experience together. We weren’t wrong. In truth, producing theatrical productions already creates a family among the cast and crew. With Music Man, this is further complemented by an incredible number of actual families involved. It’s very special, and I think it comes through on stage.”

The Deming family, Matt, Reagan, and Ari, also join the ranks of those who have discovered the magic of family connections on and behind the stage. Reagan, along with her husband Matt and daughter Ari, found themselves drawn into the world of "The Music Man." Reagan shared that this is their first show done together as a family and also marks Matt's return to the stage after a two-decade hiatus since his high school days at Granbury High School. The connection they've forged through this collective experience is monumental, despite mostly encountering each other during the show through passing high fives and hugs between scenes. Despite these brief moments, the impact has been profound. Reagan highlighted the joy of witnessing Matt's singing in the barbershop quartet and watching Ari's growth as a scenic artist alongside Reagan, who is the head scenic artist at GTC.

As the curtain rises on each performance of “The Music Man” at the Granbury Opera House, it’s not just a tale of a charming con man’s antics but a celebration of family, shared passions, and the bonds that theater weaves. This production is a testament to the power of the arts to unite families, create lasting memories, and bring together communities in the spirit of creativity and collaboration. Don’t miss your chance to witness this extraordinary showcase of talent, love, and togetherness before the curtain falls on Sept. 10.