On June 7, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” opened at Lyric Music Theater in South Portland. It was a night to remember, not only for this wonderful production but also for the professional way that an unexpected turn of events was handled.

Just one hour before showtime, the production team was notified that one of the lead actors was sick and unable to perform on opening night.

What happened thereafter was nothing less than inspirational: The director and leadership at the theater made the courageous decision that the show was a go. As in most (all?) community theater productions, ready-to-go understudies are not a possibility. But courage and talent were in no short supply that night. So, having never rehearsed the role before, and with huge shoes to fill, cast member David Heath bravely volunteered to perform the role, with book in hand.

The cast and crew accommodated this change as one might expect veteran stage professionals would do.

We in the audience were both impressed and entertained while we witnessed a remarkable demonstration of the new lead, cast and choir adjusting their performances to the challenges of the new circumstance in real time. They did it with poise, a lot of talent and even more heart.

I couldn’t ask for a better life lesson for my kids, one of whom was performing on stage and another enjoying it from the audience with me.

The Lyric Music Theater community demonstrated true theater grit. A performance for the ages!

This experience demonstrated to my family and me that community theater is not just about putting on a production. It is also about creating an actual community of people, supporting each other and working together to create something wonderful.

This lends a more profound meaning to the expression “the show must go on.”

Eric Dinnerstein

Cape Elizabeth


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