Last weekend I went to the Thomasville on Stage And Company’s “On Broad(way) Street” theater to watch Marion Rose and Ransom Lee perform as part of their summer “Alice in Wonderland” production, and it hit me just how big a part TOSAC has been in our family.
Way back in 1990, Risa was one of the stars of their production of “The Nerd.” We were living in Tallahassee at the time, and I brought one of our friends up to watch the show with me – he was a then-relatively unknown quarterback-wannabe from Florida State named Charlie Ward, Jr. I got more tickled at him laughing out loud at the onstage hilarity than I did at the show itself (although the show was very good).
Of course, even way earlier than that, when our family first settled in Thomasville back in the 1970’s one of my highlight memories was going to the auditorium downtown and watching the “Thomasville Follies.” While TOSAC wasn’t in existence then, this was pretty much a variety show featuring the talents of many Thomasvillians. More than anything I remember Ron Shank, who would later become known as the best Santa Claus not to call the North Pole home, making me laugh until my sides hurt.
Honestly, I’ve always wondered what happened to the Follies. It was a pretty cool melting pot for area talent to gather up on one stage, show off, and really have some fun for a good cause.
When Marion Rose came on the scene back in 2000, we wondered whether or not she’d be a performer. Risa has always enjoyed being a part of theater productions – she was Annie Oakley in ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ back in high school, amongst others – and I’ve always enjoyed being on the stage with my guitar. So it was no surprise that Marion Rose was on the stage early on – in fact, only four years old, as “Gretl’ in Central High School’s production of “The Sound of Music” with Carolyn Henry directing.
She’s been working with TOSAC ever since.
Then along came Ransom Lee. Again, the genes were there, but you just never know whether it was going to be a part of him or not. And again, those questions were answered very early on. When he was just five, he was onstage with TOSAC’s “Annie.” Now nine years old, he’s been TOSAC’ing pretty much since.
As a result, every day around our house revolves around something to do with past plays or plays they would like to do. For example, they’ll learn songs that they particularly like or that have particularly stood out in past productions, and walk through the house, play in their rooms, be in the shower or any combination of those, singing at the top of their lungs. Never mind that they are both belting out two totally different songs and that neither one is aware that the other one is singing at the same time, they just get lost in their own little ‘zone’ and barrel forward.
Don’t even say the words “Les Miserables” around my kids and not expect a performance in return.
These summer TOSAC productions are always fun, because the tradition has evolved to feature the young people here – and by young people I mean from teenagers all the way down to little ones who are still trying to figure out how to say certain words.
As a result, the cute factor in these shows is off the scale.
But there’s another thing that’s regularly off the scale – the overall talent that is featured. I am here to tell you that there are some talented young folks here in Thomasville. It should make all of us proud to see so many of them gathered in one spot, quality young people working together and giving of their summer time and those talents for our community when they very easily could’ve chosen to just not – as it seems far too many kids choose these days.
TOSAC is kind of like an extended family for a lot of these kids. Marion Rose and Ransom Lee have both become good friends with so many of the young folks in it that otherwise they might have never known. In fact, some of Marion Rose’s closest friendships have grown out of her TOSAC experiences. To me, that by itself is pretty special.
I look up now, and the time has flown by. Long removed from “Gretl,” Marion Rose is about to enter high school, and I shake my head at the thought that in just a handful of years she’ll be off at college somewhere and her roles on the TOSAC summer stages will come to a close.
But it does my heart good to know that when that time arrives, she’ll look back on those moments on TOSAC’s stage as some of the best times she had in her youth.
This weekend, the TOSAC summer production of “Alice in Wonderland” will have its last performances Friday and Saturday evening, with Saturday and Sunday matinees available as well. For young and old, take some time to get your tickets and show your support not only for TOSAC, but for a great group of giving and talented young people who help make Thomasville an even better place to call home.