The Sugar Creek Players haven’t always needed a theater. The group has put on performances at the Holiday Inn, in high schools and even under a tent at the Lane Place. But now they are quite at home at the Vanity Theater on Washington Street.
To celebrate how far they have come and to thank all of the people who got them to where they are today, members of the Sugar Creek Players Guild were invited to enjoy “A Gala for the Guild” on Wednesday.
“We just wanted to show our appreciation to everybody that’s been a part of the history and the current times of Sugar Creek,” said Pam Bradley, Gala committee member.
Helen Milligan, 99, acted in the first Sugar Creek Players production in 1971: “You Can’t Take It With You.” She remembered those years of trying to find places to hold productions, how difficult it was and how it seemed like the community didn’t want theater anymore. The way the community embraces the theater has been the biggest change she’s seen.
“It’s changed for the better,” Milligan said.
The night honored many more of the people who have been with Sugar Creek Players since the beginning, including Bobbye Thompson, who was instrumental in obtaining the Vanity Theater and has continued to give her time to the Sugar Creek Players ever since.
During the gala, performers took turns on the stage, and some of them hadn’t been on the stage for several years.
Stephanie Pool has been involved with almost 50 Sugar Creek Players productions in some capacity. After being
diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, the gala gave Pool a chance to get back on the stage that she has loved for so many years.
“I just liked the fact that I could come back and give it another whirl,” Pool said.
Jerry Graysen and Phyliss Fulford were the first performers of the night, and both of them have a history with the Sugar Creek Players that has come full circle.
Grayson directed the first show at the Vanity Theater in 1988, “Crimes of the Heart,” and both of them have taught and directed John Blair, who currently works at the theater.
“It’s great to see because, particularly in small towns, it’s hard to keep theater going. And I think it’s a great job that John (Blair) has done here and the board has done here.”