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A community treasure

The Mommy Chronicles

April 6, 2012
Anne Blankenship , The Daily Freeman Journal

The old saying that "time flies when you're having fun" really seems to be true in my case. I realized this week that January 2013 will mark the beginning of my 30th year in Webster City.

Thirty years is longer than I have lived anywhere, so even though it wasn't where I was born, Webster City is really my hometown now. I've enjoyed seeing it grow and change, watching new businesses sprout up and all of the community spirit here.

My very first job right out of college was here at the Daily Freeman-Journal. Max Maxon, then the editor, took a chance on a young speech communications graduate with a journalism minor and offered me a job as a reporter. So, just three weeks after I graduated, I moved to Webster City. And here I have stayed.

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I started off my college career thinking that perhaps theater was my chosen path in life. I took acting, directing, movement and voice classes. I studied diction, costuming and makeup. I was involved in several productions, both on and off stage at UNI. I worked in the box office and served as the house manager for many productions. Later I decided a more practical route was right for me. But that didn't stop my love for theater, or the joy I felt when I was working on a play.

My first summer in Webster City, I popped into an audition for a Webster City Community Theatre production. I had no intention of trying out, but I thought I could volunteer my services as a house manager that's the person who coordinates the ushers, the box office and everything in front of the stage. I talked to the director and volunteered to help with the play. He shoved a script into my hands and asked me to read for one of the parts. Before I knew it, I was cast in "You Can't Take It With You." And that was the start of a long-time association with the community theater.

Through the years, I worked on many productions sometimes onstage, sometimes behind the scenes and frequently from the director's chair. And in all those years, we were like a nomadic troupe of players, moving from place to place. One production would be presented at the high school auditorium, the next on the second floor of the old Elks Club, the next in a bank basement and the next at the old Masonic Temple (now The Bridge). We had a barn that served as our storage facility. So for every production, we'd haul set pieces from the barn to the performance venue and then back again when the show was finished.

Then in the early 1990s, we started to look for a permanent home and found one in the former Grace United Methodist Church. WCCT was able to raise enough funds to purchase the church and then remodel the structure. Since that time, the group has been settled nomads no more.

But after nearly 20 years in the building, WCCT is experiencing a lack of space. A costuming department that's bursting at the seams, a cramped makeup area and dressing rooms and a filled-to-the-rafters set storage area means it's time to expand. And that's what WCCT has planned. The group is in the midst of raising funds to expand the facility. They are nearing their goal of $150,000, but donations are still needed. Send contributions to WCCT, P.O. Box 272, Webster City, IA 50595 or contact Doug Getter at 832-6493 for more information.

Some of my best and most enduring friendships have developed from times spent working on plays and musicals. In the past few years, it's been difficult to commit many hours to performances, but I'm still one of the strongest and most enthusiastic supporters of the organization. In fact, just like with other families in the community, we're seeing a second generation of actors getting involved Daniel has discovered a love for the stage. He has appeared in about six different productions and is eager to audition for more.

The community theater is a true treasure and something for which Webster City should be proud. This hearty band of volunteers has worked to bring quality theatrical productions to the area for nearly 45 years. And with this expansion, the future looks very bright for WCCT.



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