Wait a minute! Was this any way to celebrate my sixtieth birthday?! Driving up I-5 with two dogs, a husband and all our worldly possessions in a moving van? Not my idea of a grand celebration. Leaving our sunny Southern California home of 37 years to move to Salem—known for long winters, dark skies and rain, rain and more rain? What? Please say it ain’t so! As tears fell, I watched my life disappear in the rear view mirror. A wonderful life filled with friends, family and a fulfilling acting career.
Since I arrived in Hollywood at age 23, I’d never stopped acting: theater, stand-up comedy, improv, national road tours, theme park variety shows, television guest star roles and commercial spots. It was my life for 37 years, but now it was over.
I’d never have the opportunity to perform again.
We hadn’t planned on moving, but in 2009, the recession hit, and my husband lost his job. Willamette University hired him, and we headed to the Pacific Northwest to start a new life.
We arrived in the fall and soon the unrelenting, freezing rain didn’t stop for what seemed like forever. I was miserable and homesick.
Our yard was full of leaves and the yard carts were overflowing. When the trash truck failed to empty the cart, I called to ask why. They said the leaves were frozen and stuck in the cart! So I climbed inside the cart and started chopping the leaves with a shovel. My feet were numb and my fingers were frozen. Our new neighbors were astonished to see me sitting inside my green yard cart crying as tears and snot streamed down my face, sobbing that I missed California. I was not a pretty sight.
My very nice neighbors offered plenty of sympathy and advice.
But nothing worked, until I found my cure at Pentacle Theatre.
Those very nice neighbors told me about the Pentacle. And then I went for an audition.
Here was a thriving community theater that was almost as old as I was! I auditioned for You Can’t Take it With You and was cast as Penny in the first show of the 2010 season. I’d finally found a place where I belonged. I could just hear the theme song from the old Mary Tyler Moore sitcom “You’re gonna make it after all” and I wanted to throw my hat high in the air with a big ol’ grin on my face. I was home! These were MY people! Directors, actors, costumers, prop masters, set designers, make-up and hair designers, and sound and lighting crew! Goodbye, dark skies! S’long, freezing rain! Go away blues, because there’s a theater for me and the sun is shining once again!
My cast and crewmates became like family. We spent three months working together in rehearsal and performances to create magic. The show was a hit. We moved audiences to laughter, tears and applause each night. There’s nothing that compares to live theater, and Salem has a gem of one in Pentacle … and yes, it even rivals Hollywood.
I bet when you’ve been in the audience of a Pentacle Theatre production you have sensed the magic, too. You are moved. You laugh. You even want to sing along sometimes. This is the beauty of Salem’s Pentacle Theatre. It’s about you and me and our entire community embracing how lives can be changed because of what happens on the stage.
You are the ones that make the Pentacle what it is. Ticket sales don’t nearly cover the cost of putting on a show. Your financial donation makes a difference. I know, because I am one of those people who has been changed because of your support.
I’m grateful for Pentacle Theatre and for what it has meant to me. And perhaps more importantly, I am thankful for you and your gifts to such a wonderful community treasure.
Thank you for you, in advance, for supporting this 60-year legacy of live theater. You are making our community a better place to live.
It’s raining? I didn’t even notice.
Lyndsey Fields Houser
P.S. Don’t forget! You can go on-line to make a donation: pentacletheatre.org.