On Stopping the World

Photo courtesy of Rob Reider

Katherine: …A little hyperbole never hurt anyone.

Like lightning in a bottle (or a leap caught on camera) we captured a moment of magic. For that moment, we stopped the world.

Having time now to reflect on my part in Disney’s Newsies at La Crosse Community Theatre, I feel a profound sense of peace and gratitude. Maybe the heartache of no longer creating this wonderful story on stage each night hasn’t yet set in, but for now at least, I can say with great satisfaction, I seized each day.

To my friends, new and old, thank you. To Brody, Grant, Brianna, Avery, Grace, Brad, Liz, Allante, Colin, Dennis, Tom, Angie, Jeremiah, Aaron, Aaryn, Skyler, Olivia, Maddie, Brandon, Erick, Josh, Kane, Erik, Garrett, Riley, Naikya, Rubie, Alex, Angi, Brittany, James, Cole, Caidan and Lance, it was such an immense pleasure to share the stage with you for the past three weeks. I treasure the talents and dedication each of you brought to your part.

To the crew and the band, your work behind (and under) the scenes make a world of make-believe that much more real. To the production and support team, your direction and encouragement pushed us to be the best versions of ourselves both on and off stage. And lastly, but certainly not least, to the ushers and audience members who cheered, cried and and sang with us, without you this would all be for naught. Thank you, wholeheartedly, for supporting local arts.

The magic is always fleeting. But, the brevity breeds a beauty that lives on in our collective memories and the bonds created and strengthened by the process.

I continue to encourage you all to find such collaborative ventures in your lives. Whether through arts, recreation or service, find a way to unite with others outside of work and family. Explore interests, take a risk and break down barriers.

Stopping the world doesn’t have to alter the course of history. All it really takes is a moment to watch what happens when you do.

We Built This City

“He’s not going to be very handy around the house.” – Lenya, Fools (Act II, Scene 2)

And really, I’m not. Though, I do try.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about labors of love. It’s why I get involved with things like the theatre and Rotary. It’s hard work at times, and I’ll often say yes to something that’s well down the road, only to be completely overwhelmed when it arrives because there are three other things I’ve also agreed to do. But really, when I look back at doing what I’ve done, it’s extremely satisfying.

To me, that feeling of a job well done is even more pronounced when the labor is physical. To be able to take raw materials and, through skill and style, form them into something functional and appealing brings with it an almost tangible gratification.

All of this leads me to my point; it takes a village to build a village, and villagers are always valued.

The experience I’m having playing Leon in La Crosse Community Theatre’s upcoming production of Neil Simon’s Fools is second to none. It’s a great cast of characters led by an incredible director and production team. We’re going to give you a fast, frantic and fun evening of chaotic comedy, so I encourage everyone to reserve your seats now!

Shameless plug aside, I’m trying to get into this habit of working more backstage, and that’s where my real call to arms lies. There are only so many parts in any given play, but there are always plenty of opportunities to get involved with the production while learning new skills and finding a deep sense of satisfaction. And at a place like LCT, there’s a professional technical staff who are willing, patient teachers and happy to have a hand–even if it’s only an hour here or there, which is usually all I’ve got to give.

The set of “Fools” under construction on the Lyche Theater stage

That’s the beauty of it. Finding a place to volunteer like LCT, one can learn so much that’s useful in other facets of life while also contributing to a collaborative, creative effort. I want to be a better handyman, so I’m taking my crash course from the staff and other volunteers who have been doing this for years. It’s basically a free and flexible mentorship program–a true win-win.

Outside of my professional life, I am an amateur in every sense of the word. I’m not the most adept at what I do, but I do what I do for the “love of” what I do.

I encourage and challenge all of you to find some aspect of volunteerism you love to do, whether your skilled at it or not, and just go do it. Chances are, it will be appreciated, you’ll likely learn something and feel extremely satisfied.

As the late, great Neil Simon himself said, “If no one ever took risks, Michaelangelo would have painted the Sistine floor.”

Go find your village.

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