By the way: Even the actors are volunteers

By Ann Garlick December 05, 2009 09:10 am

Among the cultural options available to Del Norters is the Lighthouse Repertory Theatre. Founded by volunteers in 1978, staffed and run by volunteers to this day, LRT is an outstanding example of what a group of determined individuals can accomplish.

Deciding on what programs to offer, how to produce, mount and present them takes lots of time and talent.  Joan Buhler, LRT president, estimates the group can count on from 40-50 volunteers to help at any time.  It takes hundreds of hours of basic carpentry, painting, sewing, designing of sets and costume-making, plus months of planning, before a show is ready to raise the curtain.

Almost everything an audience sees represents handiwork created by these volunteers. Behind the scenes of every performance stands an army of volunteers who handle everything from public relations to ticket sales and ushering. During the performance a  staff handles lighting, sound, scenery, sets, prompting and any emergency that might arise.

Since the beginning, LRT’s  main purpose has been to provide quality plays for people that are both educational and entertaining, says Buhler. Prime movers in 1978 were Bill and Kathy Maffett and John and Sandy Starets. Today’s officers include Jenny Young, Pam Wilder, Nina Burgess, John DeGlar, Katherine Gena, Dan McGlasson and Vince Borg. Membership stands at about 50 and dues are $10 a year.

The group looks forward to the day it can move into its new home, which is currently being renovated.

“We estimate we can move in about two years from now,” Buhler said. “Right now, we have to begin looking at grants, how to raise the $1 million to $1 1/2 million we will need to meet our pay-as-we-go plan.”

There is an endowment/

building account already in place, she added. To honor founders of the Thomas Trust which sold LRT its landmark theater, the acronym LRT will soon stand for Leon “Red” Thomas Performing Arts.

Next March The company will present “Annie.” You can reach LRT by writing to LRT, P.O. Box 171, Crescent City, CA, or by phoning 465-3740. If you want to audition for a show, try the phone for information you’ll need.

Ann Terrill Garlick is a veteran, award-winning journalist and a native Californian. She spent nearly 23 years as one of the editors at the Orange County Register.