NAPLES — As quiet as Richard Dunlap was in day-to-day life, he exploded on stage.

“He was always doing community theater on the side,” his wife, Wanda Dunlap, said. “He lived and breathed it. Any time you saw him perform, you wouldn’t forget him.”

Mr. Dunlap died Tuesday. He was 68.

The couple met while they both performed in “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” She was playing the role of Domina, and he was playing Hysterium.

“He was a perfect Hysterium,” she said.

They continued acting in community theater. Mr. Dunlap appeared in a number of performances, including “Hello Dolly,” “Last of the Red Hot Lovers” and “Reny’s: The Musical.” They enjoyed performing as members of Hank Beebe’s Embassy Players as well.

“The one we loved the best was ‘Go Out Singing,’ ” his wife said. “We performed throughout Maine in churches.”

In an effort to share his passion for performing arts, Mr. Dunlap and his wife started running the theater camp at Pilgrim Lodge, a Christian summer camp for youth on Lake Cobbosseecontee in West Gardiner.

Theater camp participants, primarily young people of junior high age, would receive their parts in the mail and be ready to rehearse when they arrived at camp. the time the week was over, Mr. Dunlap and his wife had the children ready to perform for their parents.

Later, they founded the Pilgrim Lodge Players. The group traveled the state, performing at churches and raising funds for mission trips.

Acting was something that Mr. Dunlap and his wife also tried to pass on to their grandchildren, to little avail, a granddaughter, Mary Cadman, said.

Another granddaughter, Michaele Potvin, said her grandfather performed even this past summer when he was very ill.

“No matter how sick he was, he was always able to pull out these amazing performances,” she said.

It was those performances that Cadman will remember the most, especially his signature facial expressions.

After a career in various media outlets, Mr. Dunlap dedicated his work to assist people with mental illness and other forms of disabilities. In Maine, he worked at Pathways and Momentum, helping clients to develop job skills.

“He worked to make a place where a person could have meaningful work, who otherwise might be languishing,” his wife said. “He was being an advocate for people that were maybe overlooked. He didn’t overlook.”

Potvin described him as a “wonderful, caring, dynamic person.”

When he made the career change, he was hoping to spend his energy in the best way possible, his wife said.

“He would always be able to reach out, and they knew he cared. He was a marvelous human being,” she said.

 

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

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