Monday night my wife Ashley and I went to Warren County High School to watch the WCHS Theater Club's performance of “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical.” As I sat there watching the play and appreciating the amount of work put into this production by the actors, directors, crew, set decorators, lighting and sound technicians and everyone else it took to put this event together, it struck me just how far the Warren County theater community has come in a relatively short amount of time.
It’s a remarkable accomplishment and a beneficial one to the youth of this and surrounding counties. My own experience in the theatrical arts is limited to a turn as “Ol’ King Cole” in a third-grade production at Eastside Elementary. I also had a role in sixth grade as “Uncle Groucho Bear” in a strange play that combined Groucho Marx and the three bears. I was cast because of my ability to wiggle my eyebrows on command. Two of my bear co-stars in that play were Chris Madewell and Alan Smith. I was the only one of that bear trio to not go on to become a headmaster at Covenant Academy.
During my youth, school plays were about the extent of theatrical options. Now, thanks to the tireless work of many dedicated folks, the youth of Warren County have many options to pursue an interest in the performing arts, and this is a very good thing. From the WCHS Theater Club to Dream Reality Group to Warren Arts, there is a rich arts community burgeoning in Warren County that just didn't exist 10 years ago.
I'm hesitant to start naming the many people whose efforts helped bring about this rejuvenation because I'm sure I would leave out some very key people, but I will give credit to the person who opened my eyes to the need for and value of a local performing arts community.
Sheri Denning is a close friend of mine who I met during our college years when she started dating and then married my friend Mike Denning. I've remained in contact with the Dennings and their family all these years and I've taken a sense of pride in watching their kids grow up and succeed. That is the reason I would sometimes find myself traveling to The Arts Center of Cannon County to watch the Denning kids perform in plays. Several other Warren County children also took part in those plays because of the lack of a local option.
Sheri saw that need and worked with several others to bring Warren Arts to fruition. Watching the Denning kids find the confidence in themselves to help them grow and flourish both as performing artists and as young adults definitely opened my eyes to the importance of presenting our youth with theatrical options locally. So, I give a hearty "bravo" to all who made this possible and here's to many encore performances.
Standard Managing Editor Seth Wright can be reached at (931) 473-2191