The plans for VP’s 90th Birthday Gala are being closely followed from Westminster, California (near Huntington Beach), by longtime members Lou and Carl Stewart. Carl and Village Players are virtual “twins” sharing the birth year 1923. While VP’s 90th birthday festivities are set for June 1, Carl’s celebration is this Saturday*, and includes a special musical-theatre-themed event, complete with a live music trio and games highlighting Carl’s long acting career.
Lou called this week to share some memories about the family’s history with VP. She stated by saying that VP “played an integral part” in their family’s life. They joined VP in 1962; Lou still has their “letter of acceptance.” “Our kids grew up in the theatre” she says, “and the whole family benefitted.” She continued, “To this day our kids still talk about the swing on stage in “Little Mary Sunshine,” (Carl’s first show). Many members will remember Carl, who plays drums, as a mainstay in the orchestra for VP musicals. Carl played drums for at least 25 shows music directed by JoAnn Bowes. Reportedly, to this day he remains Patty Ward’s all-time favorite drummer!
Three of the Stewart family members, Lou, Carl, and daughter Julie, were in the 1984 production of “Annie Get Your Gun.” Lou most fondly remembers wearing a dress designed by Don Nagle and made by Charlotte Quinn. Later that same dress was restyled for Yolanda Foley, but to Lou, that was always “her dress.”
Lou’s fondest memories of VP include “the parties” and “the big old fireplace.” “Parties were by invitation, you know”, she says, “and the invitations usually required formal wear.” “We always had a party after the musicals at our house– the Stewart House was the party house” she continues, “and there was always lots of booze!”
The Stewarts moved to California about three years ago to be closer to their kids. “We’ve been married 62 years” she states, “or as Carl puts it, 39 good ones!” Even though they’re no longer in the area, they’ve kept up on VP news by reading “The Prompter” and the VP Blog. “Recently” Lou notes, “we saw an old Village Player friend of ours, Danny Gurwin, in a production of “Forever Plaid” at the Huntington Beach Playhouse. “We stayed after the show and he came out to talk to us, and we chatted about the good old days at the Village Players.” “Carl was always one of the best liked members of the group, and many a director relied upon him for his diplomatic skills.” She adds, “and all the gals loved him!”
Carl’s last show at Village was “South Pacific”, starring Patty Ward. “We really wanted to come back for the 90th Anniversary party, but travel is just too difficult for us these days.” Lou notes. “One of our treasured memories is a drawing that Doug Parrish did for us on our 50th wedding anniversary. It was one of his last, you know.” “Give our best to everyone there,” she says in signing off, “We miss you all!”
*Share your 90th birthday wishes with Carl and Lou. Hi celebration is this Saturday, May 4! Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org, give them a call at 714-895-1260, or write a reply to this blog (Lou says they read it). Don’t forget they are 3 hours behind us! — Gary Mach