Taking a bow

For over 30 years, Loween Getter has been involved in nearly every aspect of the Webster City Community Theatre.

“I enjoy being whatever. If it’s on stage, if it’s directing, painting sets or making and finding costumes, cleaning, or just making sure everything is organized,” Getter said. “It’s such a rewarding avocation to be involved with.”

The time, effort, and experience have resulted in Getter being honored by the American Association of Community Theatres (AACT) with the Distinguished Merit Award this July. Getter is one of three people receiving this honor and is the only Iowan to receive the award this year.

“You just always accept an award on behalf of everyone else,” Getter said. “We have so many good volunteers here.”

“You don’t need a trophy or a plaque for the wall. After every production you just feel it in here,” Getter said as she motioned to her heart. “That’s really why you keep coming back. You want to see the ones you’ve worked with before and you want to meet new people.”

Getter was nominated for the award by Bill Greenley.

Getter, 69, got her start in theater after seeing a local production of “South Pacific.”

“I went to a production of ‘South Pacific’ and at that time they were doing shows wherever there was room in town,” said Getter. “That summer they were in the old Elk’s building, which is across from the newspaper office, they were on the top floor where the ball room is. All it was was a dance floor with a tiny little stage.”

By the time the production was over, Getter was so enthralled with the performances and people that she decided to try out herself.

“I sat in the audience and thought those people are having so much fun. I want to have that kind of fun,” Getter said. “So the next summer they were going to do “Camelot.” I auditioned and got a part in the chorus. I was so excited.”

Since then, Getter has been directing, performing, and assisting with odds and ends at the theater.

“My very favorite role was in “Lost in Younkers,” said Getter. “Grandma in that was a very old-school German. Pretty strict with her grandsons. I really channeled my own grandma on that one. That was probably the most channeling role I’ve ever had.”

“I directed all of the ‘Nunsense’ shows and I’ve directed all of the ‘Don’t Hug Me’ shows. Those are some of my favorites just because they’re fun and it’s a small cast and you really get to know each other,” said Getter.

Getter is currently directing the Webster City Community Theatre summer production of “Fiddler on the Roof”. This will be the 25th show she has directed.

“It’s one of those shows that is a tradition in musical theater. There aren’t a whole lot of ways to do it differently,” Getter said. “The characters are just so engrained in people’s minds.”

“It’s a wonderful story about tradition and how traditions change but still go on,” said Getter. “It’s a learning experience for every cast to understand the Jewish culture, to understand what the pogroms did to the Jewish people to drive them out of Russia”

The show opens July 7. Tickets are $15 and will go on sale June 27.

“Here I am all these years later,” said Getter. “Entrenched in a passion that I really really like. I don’t know what path life would have taken me if I hadn’t found the theater.”

Getter also hopes to cross “perform a one-woman show” off her bucket list in the future.

“Jane Cox from ISU came and performed a few of her one-woman shows in Hamilton County. I sat in the audience and I was just in awe of her becoming Eleanor Roosevelt or whatever her character was at the time,” said Getter.

The theater is not the only place Getter is involved in Webster City. She is a part of the Webster City Rotary Club, Beta Sigma Phi (a women’s service organization), PEO President, Women of the ELCA, Trinity Lutheran Church bell choir, and teaches a B.A.S.E. Fitness class for senior citizens.

Getter taught home economics at Webster City High School for 11 years after moving to Webster City in 1979. She quit teaching in 1990 to work at Electrolux as a home economist for the laundry division. She worked there for almost 19 years. Getter also spent three years working part-time at the Chamber Office.