Mrs. George L. “Monte” Narber had first heard about us at the Roxy from her best friend, the late but much-loved and admired Grace Cunningham. Although a Clarksville native, Monte was then living in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, but Grace wrote to Monte with great praise for our efforts. So on a very cold winter’s day, with a heating bill soaring through the roof (which Dan Stark, then head of the Gas and Water Department, allowed us to pay in installments), Monte sent a check which was like a million dollars to a group of tentative, new and novice theatre hopefuls.
She also bought us a scaffold. We had been borrowing Immaculate Conception Catholic Church’s with the caveat that when the light bulbs high in the nave went out, I would return it and change them. So her gift of a new one made its way to the church, and we kept the old one that we had abused and manhandled for years.
Monte also produced our annual Shakespeare. On her passing, Jim Mann took up that gauntlet, and now our city fathers produce our annual Shakespeare, making us here in Clarksville the only city where the works attributed to the Bard of Stratford-upon-Avon are presented on an annual basis (and have been since 1986).
The spark that Monte ignited grew and inspired others. We needed to honor her and also to honor the numerous others who have done their bit to keep us going and growing stronger here on the corner of Franklin and First, so for the past 28 years, we have awarded “Montes.”
Past recipients of the Monte Award have been Debby Dowlen Noyes (1985), Stacy Turner-Olson (1986), Marge Lillard (1987), Cinders Murdoch-Vaughan and Gene Wolf (1988), Linda Ellis and Paul Flaten (1989), James Mann and Kathy Sitton (1990), Richard Gildrie (1991), Alice Cortner (1992), James Mann and Richard Gildrie (1993), Gene Wolf and Mary Harpel (1994), Conrad and Alison Edington (1995), Jim McDonald (1996), Peg Harvill (1997), Dr. Bill Grabenstein (1998), Mike Fink and Greg Williamson (1999), Susan Bryant (2000), The Leaf-Chronicle and The Riverview Inn (2001), Leslie Greene (2002), Joanne Anthony (2003), Nelda Steeley and Jon Prudhomme (2004), The Eichhorn-Kitterman Family and The Boen Family (2005), Maria Rice McClure and Walter Marczak (2006), Paige King and Meredith Gildrie (2007), Bruce and Debra Jobe and Judi Sinks (2008), Beverly Fisher, Kitty Madden and Katie Kennedy (2009), Mary Nell Wooten and Nancye Britton (2010), and Ted Jones (2011).
This year’s award went to Lena and Jimmy Orgain for their support of our new center for arts and education, along with Judy and Fred Landiss. Both couples have given us hope, the hope to continue our efforts and have faith in its coming to fruition. The Grace Cunningham Award went to Della Coleman.
Spring Awakening continues through May 5, playing Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7pm and Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm. SchoolHouse Rock Live plays two more 2pm matinees this Saturday and May 5.
See you at the theatre!