by Tom Chillemi
Enjoying the theater experience
Her laughter conceals her age.
Court House Players’ Anita Minuth has theater experience for multiple lifetimes.
At 88 years young, she just wrapped up directing “Blithe Spirit” for the Court House Players. Last year, she directed “Bus Stop,” and “Crickets On The Hill.” Before that, it was “The Day They Kidnapped the Pope” and “My Three Angels,” a Court House Players comedy hit. The list goes on.
Minuth is not about rest on her accomplishments. No, she promises to be back for encores as long as she can. “Some say it keeps you busy,” said Minuth. “I will not do it just to keep busy. I do it for the creative reward and to be with the people that I work with on the shows, to feel part of the community that I live in. It’s exciting!
“Life is so much more fun so long as you have an adventure. Anything can be an adventure. It’s just what you make of it.”
Minuth was recently contacted by a man whom she worked with when he was a teen in the 1980s and Minuth was part of the stage crew for Busch Gardens shows. “It’s just a delight that these people stay in touch.”
“Life is so much more fun so long as you have an adventure.
Anything can be an adventure. It’s just what you make of the journey.”
Theater is energizing for all those involved.
Since it was founded by Dick and Meryl Lusher of Mathews in 1979, Court House Players has had 40 full seasons of at least three productions annually.
That foundation has solidified into bedrock for generations of community actors. Child actors have developed into producers. Like Trey Shinault of Mathews. He played Winthrop, the little boy with a lisp, in “The Music Man” in 1988. This year he was producer for “Blithe Spirit.”
Reluctant to take credit, Minuth points out that there are no unimportant parts in a show. Even when a small part is not at rehearsal there is a big gap. “Everyone is important.”
Theater creates energy. Take an empty stage, build a temporary set, add a script and people with desire and ideas come to life. “You can feel the rhythm of the dialogue, the climax and anti-climax. It’s something that becomes apparent as actors mesh. It becomes an entity of its own.
Acting is the union of the mind and body. It’s releasing inhibitions fears and and letting out what’s inside. “It’s always amazing to me how the personality of actors come through as they develop their characters, and that makes one show different from another. Actors build on the energy of those around them,” said Minuth.
Not all shows are scripted by a famous writer. Years ago, Minuth was part of shows performed for the Gloucester Lions Club that were akin to vaudeville with silly jokes, puns, and Abbott and Costello routines. And there always was a reference to someone in the audience squeezed into the jokes.
Last year she directed “Crickets On The Hill,” a musical to commemorate the Revolutionary Battle of Cricket Hill.
In 2017 she directed “The Day They Kidnapped the Pope.”
On August 1-4, Court House Players will present “Plaza Suite” at The Church of St. Therese in Gloucester Court House. John Dempsey is director.
On November 15-18, the musical “Oliver” will light up the Harry Ward Auditorium at Mathews High School with those memorable songs, “I’d Do Anything For You,” “Where is Love,” and “Food Glorious Food.”
“Oliver” will be directed by Lara Emerson, whose husband and family have caught the theater bug. She and five of her children were involved in the “Blithe Spirit” production, including building the stage and creating special effects.
Lara designed the stage, was lead carpenter and her five children nailed, painted and even built some furniture and stage props.
The Mathews High School stage is one of the best in the area and has the ability to drop sets from the ceiling, something not usually found in community theatre, said Minuth.
For “Peter Pan” six people flew across the stage. “It’s such a wonderful stage We are very lucky to be able to do so much more,” she said.
Minuth will be back at it for May Faire on the Mathews Courthouse Historic Green on Saturday, May 4. The day will honor service men and women who served in all wars. A number of WWII veterans are scheduled to speak.
For 30 years, Minuth was part of Tri-County Express, a singing group that performed audience favorites such as oldies, jazz, gospel and country from Chesapeake to Richmond. Tri-County Express will be back on stage at May Faire.
And, when you get tired of watching others have fun, join Court House Players. There is a part waiting for you!