Cheryl Reid is leaving Anacortes Community Theatre — as its production coordinator anyway.
Reid has been with ACT for more than 20 years, acting, directing and helping backstage. She has been the full-time production coordinator for the last 12 years.
Reid told the staff they can always call her if they need to, but come December she’ll be out of state a good part of the year.
Reid said she and her husband plan to become snowbirds, wintering in their fifth-wheel in warmer weather somewhere south.
As she takes a bow and prepares to exit, ACT has brought on longtime theater member Tim Brown as the new manager. Brown will work alongside Reid until she leaves after Thanksgiving.
Reid said retirement has been a long time coming.
“I gave my notice three years ago,” Reid said.
Since then she’s been counting down. Now that she’s 65 and doesn’t need employer medical insurance, less than 70 days remain on the count-down calendar at her office desk. After that, she’ll come back to the theater only to do the jobs she enjoys most, like painting sets.
Since 1999, she said she’s painted sets for 120 shows.
“When I come back to town, that’s what I want to do,” she said. “But I’m never going to pick up another costume again. Ever.”
ACT board member Michelle Stahl said that theater patrons have offered to buy some of the background portraits Reid painted to hang on set walls.
“She’s definitely an artist,” Stahl said.
Stahl said Brown is a great addition to the theater, and he will be up to the challenge, drawing on a passion for theater and 17 years of experience as an actor and director. But Stahl also said Reid will be sorely missed.
“It’s a good opportunity for the theater,” she said, “but it’s also really scary. We don’t know what jobs are going to be lost because only Cheryl knew about them.”
Stahl said Reid knows where to find elusive props and costumes in the theater’s back rooms, and she helped develop strong community ties between the theater and other groups in town, including Soroptimist International of Anacortes.
“She’s been an amazing backbone for the theater,” she said.
Reid said the theater will be in good hands with Brown, whom she has mentored since they performed together in “Guys and Dolls” back in 1996, and she said she couldn’t have asked for a better career.
“This has been the best job in the world,” she said.
Brown, 31, grew up in Anacortes and has worked as a lumber grader at Washington Alder in Mount Vernon for the last five years. He worked construction prior to that. His first day at the new job was Sept. 10 and he was excited to be working full time at his hobby.
“This is the dream,” Brown said. “Theater’s what I know; it’s what I love. I believe it’s the best form of entertainment you can give a community, because it’s personal. Theater changed my life.”
Brown is one of nine children, and six of his siblings have also performed in ACT productions. His first show was as a teenager in 1994, and Reid said he was welcomed into the theater family.
Brown’s wife now directs plays with ACT, and their four children are involved in theater. Brown’s 16-month-old son has already been in two productions, he said.
Brown said he wants to continue Reid’s work, but also target a younger audience and work to improve the technological side of the playhouse.
Stahl said the theater is looking to expand in certain areas under new leadership, with more fundraising and possibly selling e-tickets online in the future. She said they’ll work to keep the quality of the performances high.
“We want to maintain the level of the shows,” she said. “But I think we want to work on getting more young people in the seats.”
Reid and Brown agree it’s the volunteers who are the lifeblood of any community theater. It’s rare for thespians to find full-time employment doing what they love, and Brown said he hasn’t forgotten that.
“Working for our board is going to be a highlight,” he said. “I have the best eight bosses in the world.”
Stahl pointed out that although it’s a great opportunity, the full-time, flex-time position can be a tough act.
“They basically have to be on call all the time,” Stahl said. “It’s hard work.”
Something that may be of help to you at ACT in the future, a lot of vintage and period clothing, hats, shoes & boots are available at 2 Gulls (718 Commercial next to Buer’s Florist). You may just find that perfect costume to make the character come to life!