Today’s column is dedicated to a real lover of the theatre – Barbara Bear. You may have been seated by her at Signature Theatre where she volunteers, and you may see her all over town enjoying a show. Barbara’s sparkling personality and Southern charm are evident when you meet her or when she greets you, and her love for theatre is infectious.
How did you become interested in going to the theatre?
When I moved to Arlington,VA in 1961 with my mother, father and sister – I discovered the National Theatre thanks to the Washington Post. I went to my first professional stage show, with my sister, in the fall of 1961 at the National Theatre – it was The Music Man starring Forrest Tucker (he autographed my program and I still have it) and Marilyn Savage. I loved the show and was hooked from then on.
If you had to guess, how many shows do you see in a year?
Well, since you asked – I just did a quick count and found 110 programs from 2011. Some of these shows I saw more than once, but I only keep one program and note the performances I attended. For example, I saw Sunset Boulevard at Signature Theatre ten times. Some of those times I ushered – so I really didn’t pay to see it ten times.
Are seeing plays and musicals equally as enjoyable to you – or do you prefer one over the other?
I love them equally for the most part…but I may be a bit partial to musicals….This past week I went to NYC to see Bonnie and Clyde (a new musical). Thursday I saw Ann a new play about Ann Richards and REALLY enjoyed it. Friday I saw Billy Elliot, a musical, and loved it (saw it several years ago in NYC); Friday I saw the holiday cabaret at Signature – Holiday Follies (both shows – so I saw this cabaret 3 times); I saw Pride and Prejudice at Round House (this is not a musical yet!) I enjoyed all of these shows equally.
Are there any plays or musicals you have seen that you were prepared to not like but you ended up loving?
I don’t usually go to something being prepared to dislike it. So, no, to this question.
Who are some of your favorite composers for the theatre?
Meredith Willson – probably because he did the book, music and lyrics to the first musical I saw The Music Man, and I loved this show (and still do) so much.
And, Matt Conner, a very popular composer and actor and a local favorite – who is responsible for one of my favorite musicals Nevermore. The show was originally produced at Signature Theatre in Arlington in 2006, and starred Dan Cooney as Edgar Allan Poe. It was recently done again at Creative Cauldron in Falls Church, VA, and starred Sean Thompson as Poe. Matt is so talented and he seems to compose this great music so effortlessly (he may not agree with me on that one)! And, of course I like Andrew Lloyd Webber…..loved Sunset Boulevard, Les Miz, and Cats.