Join us for a very special Opening Night!
Opening night is always special. The energy surrounding the start of a run of performances comes after a long, dedicated rehearsal schedule and a lot of hard work. The director, the actors, and the technical crew anxiously await the evening when all the work pays off and an audience finally sees the show. This cast and crew is no exception. They are READY and they have WORKED hard! We are very excited to have a house full of guests this evening, but tonight is special for more than one reason.
Tonight, we dedicate the run of our Wind in the Willows performances to Tom Zbyszewski. In the theater, we honor people by dedicating live performance. As performing artists, though, the nature of our work is somewhat fleeting. The work we do does not end in a sculpture, or a bench, or a memorial plaque. At the end of the night, it's over. The impact must live on in the hearts of those onstage as well as in the audience.
When considering this, we at The Merc decided that there was a more lasting way we could honor Tom's memory in our theater. We have a thriving children's theater program here, and Tom was one of the young actors to be a part of our program in its very early stages. We always hope for young actors like Tom who come back season after season to play onstage and eventually mentor the youngest ones coming in after them. Tom was among some of the first children to fulfill that role for us and help our program grow to where it is today with over forty children auditioning for this very production of The Wind in the Willows. Without the original group of kids that Tom was a part of, this program would not have grown to where it is today.
The next choice made sense - let's name our whole program after Tom. He was a shining star as a young actor here, and he remained a friend after moving to college. He came back and checked in, he sat in the audience, he continued to support our mission and be a part of our family. He had plans to come back someday and perform on our stage again. Though that friendship has been tragically cut short, we can continue to honor Tom the way he honored us by continuing our work with children while his name is part of our program.
Tonight is for you, Tom. But not just tonight. Tomorrow night, and Sunday, and next weekend. And all that we do to influence young actors. We do it in your memory and to honor your dedication to your community.