It's a Family Thing
How do we decide what play to do for our Senior Intensive show? Our seniors who have been in leadership roles are encouraged to share with me what show they would like to do. This year, my son, Chris, who is a senior, really wanted to revive The Mikado. We had done it in 2010 when he was 10 years old. He had played the part of Pooh-Bah, which is supposed to be a part for a baritone, but ended up being a soprano because of how young Chris was. Chris thought it would be nice to do it again when he actually was a baritone. It’s been lots of fun watching him reprise the same role.
My family has been involved in theatre for quite a while. My mother, Mary Ella Barber, directed youth plays at the Iowa City Community Theatre and also performed at the theatre. My father, John Barber, worked on the audience platforms, was in charge of the snack bar, and spearheaded the set up and take down of shows. Both of my parents were on the ICCT board. My sister was in plays at her high school and also at ICCT. One of my early memories is attending her high school production of King and I when I was five and standing up in my seat and yelling, “That’s my sister!” when she came onstage. She wasn’t amused.
I was in my first play in second grade. I was a bunny in our class production. I fell in love with theatre, and did as many plays as I could after that. I was in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at ICCT when I was in 6th grade, which started my love of Shakespeare. I was heavily involved in plays in high school and graduated with a Communication and Theatre Arts degree from the University of Iowa. Throughout the years I was in Iowa City, my mother and I were in shows together, which we both really enjoyed. When my husband and I were first married, I acted in and was the Assistant Director and Stage Manager for dinner theatre productions at my church in Waco. However, once I started having children, life got busy, and I felt that the Lord was leading me to stop being involved in theatre.
Twenty years and nine children later, two of my kids wanted to take theatre classes. Being somewhat broke at the time, I couldn’t afford to put them in classes at one of San Antonio’s local theatres. I heard of a co-op that needed a theatre teacher, so my husband and I felt the leading for me to teach the class so the kids could be in drama without having to pay tuition. Little did we know that the little class I had (six students the first semester) would turn into a pre-professional theatre training studio and would be going strong 15 years later. Eight of my
nine kids ended up being in Crystal Sea Drama Company from 2001-2017, acting, doing technical work, and teaching. My husband has helped with building sets and storage, as well as being in our “Cell Phone Bit” at the beginning of shows, reminding people to turn off their cell phones. Five of the children and I have worked on shows and acted in productions at The Public Theatre (formerly known as The Playhouse) since 2007. We loved sharing the experience of being in shows together.
It’s hard to believe my youngest is graduating this May and that none of my kids will be in my company anymore! However, there will still be family involved. My daughter, Andrea (class of 2012), will be on staff again next year, and my granddaughter takes the Elementary Theatre class and is occasionally in shows. As much as she loves it, I’m sure that the Miller family will continue to be represented at CSDC for a number of years more.
I hadn’t even realized that we were starting the fourth generation of our family in theatre when my granddaughter joined the company, until one of my friends pointed it out to me. How incredible is that!
I’m so grateful for my mother and father encouraging me to follow my passion. I loved doing theatre with my family when I was a kid, and I love doing it with my children now that I’m the adult. It’s a blessing and a privilege that God has given me the opportunity to do what I love with the people I love.