“Just before the turn of the century.” I’ve always loved that term. When I was younger, that phrase always conjured up Teddy Roosevelt and the Wright brothers, long skirts and skimmer hats. This “turn,” 1999, however, found me back in Miami Springs, done with acting professionally in NYC, done writing for the “soaps” and at the time, serving as a reporter for “The River Cities Gazette,” when my dramatic roots started tugging on me to return to the theater. I honestly don’t remember “a day” when I decided to start the theater, but I do remember sitting in City Manager Jim Borgmann’s office in City Hall, explaining my idea to bring the Pelican Playhouse to life in the Annex of the old Rec Center. “Give it a shot,” was his go ahead. Fifteen years later, we’re still shooting! We’ve come a long way from then to where we are now, here in the beautiful Rebeca Sosa Theater. Through all the improvements and upgrades, all the ups and down (and there have been many more ups than downs), the one inescapable high point of the last fifteen years has been the people who have come out and formed this amazing family of players. More than 525 at last count. Some with a lot of experience and talent, but most with little or none. The thrill of watching them grow and finally “get it!” “It” being this amazing, dynamic, wonder that is live theater, and how it enriches you and everyone around you. I never got tired of it, and never will.
The other day in the dog park, the enormity of what has gone on was brought into sharp focus. A former, then ten-year-old Pelican, introduced me to her four-year-old son and said she had plans to start him in “puppets” next year. The Pelicans are reproducing! To get to do what you love for a living is remarkable. I, of course, thank God for all the blessings He continues to shower on me. And His biggest blessing is my amazing wife/theater manager/co-star, Nancy Jones, who had the dream of a community theater in Miami Springs that we both pursued so passionately. None of this would have happened without her inspiration, encouragement, and just plain hard work. One of the wonderful things about my job is, even though on the outside it looks the same, doing one play after another, it is always different. The plays, the people, and the chemistry that comes from mixing the two are always unique. What does the future hold for the Pelican Playhouse? Stick around, I may have another fifteen years in me!