Spring is awakening in our community, and the arts are blooming just as energetically.
We have two subjects to discuss with you this week. First, two community favorites, Robert and Irene Terreberry, will revisit a musical show which they have performed twice before: the musical show ''I Do! I Do!.''
Second, the Audubon Center and Sanctuary will soon hold its annual dinner, which is the organization's principal fundraiser for all their wonderful activities, for the coming year. Not only will they be offering a first rate dinner, but they will also be showing and auctioning off a long list of visual art works, donated by artists who will be showing their work in the center's upcoming ''Art in the Woods'' show, and other valuable goods and services.
Robert and Irene Terreberry join their accompanist Gale Svenson-Campbell in a rehearsal of the musical ``I Do! I Do!' which they will perform at the Robert H. Jackson Center, May 6-7 and 13-14.
Let me tell you all about the Terreberrys' upcoming performances, and then we'll move along to the Audubon dinner:
I DO! I DO!
For those whose memories are young, allow me to take you on a tour of the local arts scene, approximately 40 years ago.
The Lucille Ball Little Theatre of Jamestown was then called the Little Theatre of Jamestown. The company had a firm policy at the time that they only did what is called ''legitimate theater,'' which means plays which have no musical elements.
Local musician and teacher R. Richard Corbin loved the musical theater, and believed that there was an interest in the community to see it performed. He created a company to do musicals, although they had so little money to pay production costs, he named the company ''The Shoestring Players,'' since everything was done on a shoestring.
After an investigation, Corbin found a home for his company at what was then the Scottish Rite Consistory. Today, that same building is the Robert H. Jackson Center, in downtown Jamestown.
The Masonic order had a facility there which included a theater - ironically, the exact same theater which had previously housed the Little Theatre. Shoestring Players did annual seasons of musical shows, all of which were accompanied by Corbin on an electronic organ, and some of which also utilized a pianist from the community. Corbin directed the shows and accompanied them. His wife, Doris, ran the box office, to bring in that so-important budget, and their children often performed in the shows or added color to the accompaniment on a variety of other musical instruments.
In 1951, playwright Jan de Hartog created a sentimental play about the changes which one couple undergoes, in the process of a long marriage. Their names were George and Agnes. He contrasted the wide-eyed naivete of newlyweds with the wiser and sometimes sadder view of the long-married. He titled it ''The Fourposter,'' because the entire play had only one single setting: the couple's bedroom with its large fourposter bed.
The play won most of the big awards for its Broadway run, with Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy in the only two roles which the script provides. Soon it was snatched up by Hollywood, which immediately changed the spelling of the title to ''The Four Poster.'' They also changed the couple's names to John and Abby. Rex Harrison and his then-wife, Lili Palmer played the roles. They also changed the ending.
In the original play, the couple begins the evening by coming into their bedroom for the first time, still in their wedding finery. At the end, the now elderly couple has sold their large home to another young couple who will be raising a family there, and are on the verge of moving to a small retirement apartment.
In the film, the couple dies, and we are shown their ghosts, once again in youthful form and wedding finery, moving back into their old home. The film was nominated for both the Oscar and the Golden Globe.
In 1966, the Broadway show-writing team of Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt had recently had a great success with their creation of the musical ''The Fantastiks.'' They decided to create a musical version of ''The Fourposter,'' which they gave the energetic title ''I Do! I Do!'' Agnes kept her original moniker, but for some reason, George became Michael. Instead of the 35-year marriage which was the focus of the original play, it was lengthened to a 50-year event. People lived longer, on the average, in 1966, than they did in 1951.
The new show was taken up by famed producer David Merrick,'' who hired choreographer Gower Champion to direct. Mary Martin and Robert Preston were the original cast of the musical. They were eventually followed in the roles by Carol Lawrence and Gordon MacRae, and then by Carol Burnett and Rock Hudson. Members of the company eventually carried away seven Tony Awards, the highest accolades for New York City productions.
My research indicates that a film version of the musical was undertaken, with Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, fresh from their success in ''Mary Poppins,'' contracted to play the roles, but the project fell through and the film was never made.
A number of recordings were made of the show's score, and several of the songs became individual hits, including the title song, and by far the biggest popular success, ''My Cup Runneth Over (With Love.)''
Both the play version and the musical version have been very popular with theater companies around the world. Not only is the script interesting and easy to understand and with which to relate, there is only one, relatively simple set and only two singer/actors to costume and to pay. Theater companies have ever struggled to meet the bills.
No surprise then that Richard Corbin scheduled a production of the musical show for Shoestring Players, in 1971. In the lead, he cast a young man who had only recently moved to our area from Niagara Falls, to accept a teaching position. His name was Robert Terreberry. Playing Agnes was a lovely young woman named Irene Nania. Unlike the situation with Michael and Agnes, it wasn't a match made in heaven.
The couple dated for a while, but one evening before a rehearsal, they had a world class quarrel. Terreberry said recently, ''I took Dick Corbin aside and told him that I would never accept another role, opposite 'that woman.' ''
The production was a success, and the rift healed. Eventually, in 1975, the pair wed. They became the parents of three children: Jennie, Joshua, and Elle.
Eleven years after the original production, Corbin suggested that the couple reprise their roles as Michael and Agnes. The production requires that the actors almost constantly be changing their clothes, because it moves through all the major events of their long lives. Talking of the second production, Terreberry recalls, ''I remember one quick change, when I had to take off a nightshirt and put on a tuxedo, as my character was supposed to be getting dressed for his daughter's wedding, at which he was supposed to give away the bride.''
The change is relatively simple: the actor tucks the part of the nightshirt below the waist inside his formal trousers, then puts on a tie, a vest and a jacket. Naturally, if things can go wrong, when one is hurrying, they inevitably do. ''I pulled up the trousers, pulled up the zipper, and donned the rest of the costume, then ran back onto the stage. But, I had managed to catch a large chunk of the nightshirt in the zipper, and it was hanging brightly out of my trousers, like a flag,'' he laughed.
The song he was supposed to sing is titled ''My Daughter is Marrying an Idiot.'' ''That night, the father of the bride was the one who looked like the idiot,'' the actor recalled.
Now, 40 years after they first undertook the roles, the Terreberrys are going to do them again, returning to the same theater where they had their first successes with them. May 6-7 and 13-14, at 7:30 p.m., they will do four performances. Each of them will be a benefit for a local good cause.
In honor of the late Richard Corbin, the proceeds from their opening performance will be donated to the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, where they will go to enhance the R. Richard Corbin Memorial Scholarship.
The scholarship is awarded annually to a local student who is studying keyboards, musical theater, or preparing to be a music teacher. Those wishing to attend that performance may reserve them in advance by phoning 664-7046, during regular business hours.
The May 7 performance will be a benefit for the Zonta Club of Jamestown. Those wishing to reserve tickets in advance may do so by phoning 386-6043, during regular business hours.
The Digital Mammography program of WCA Hospital will be the recipient of proceeds for the May 13 performance. To reserve tickets for that evening, phone either 664-8301 or 664-8423, days.
Proceeds from the final performance, May 14, will go to support the Honduras Mission of St. Timothy's Lutheran Church in Bemus Point. That program has been going on for more than 15 years. Reservations may be made during daylight hours at 386-6043.
If any performance is not sold out, remaining tickets will be sold at the door before the performances.
Accompanying the performers will be pianist Gail Svenson-Campbell.
Both actors have commented on the fact that the changes in their own lives, over the past 40 years have resulted in some reconsideration of the events and the emotions of the show. Among these changes, the couple now has three grandchildren, two of whom have been born in 2011.
''One of the songs in the show is called 'When the Kids Get Married,' in which Michael and Agnes look forward to the day when their children are independent and they can do some of the pleasurable activities which they have had to forego because of their family responsibilities,'' the actor recalls. ''When we first did the show, we sang it out in an utterly straightforward manner. Now, we understand the irony of the song, because even when your children are married, your job description may have changed, but your job as a parent is never done.''
''With only two people in the entire show, there are obviously a lot of lines and music to memorize. There was originally a great many props to manage and several dance numbers,'' Terreberry recalls. ''This incarnation is being performed in a concert version, which means that the couple will read their lines from scripts, and perform the musical numbers.'' They will wear attractive clothes, rather than costumes, although I was told they sometimes use a prop or don a piece of a costume, to establish what is happening to the characters more clearly.
The couple report that they have been enjoying becoming reacquainted with Michael and Agnes, and they are enjoying being back on stage, with new or changed outlooks on their characters.
The Robert H. Jackson Center is officially on Fourth Street in downtown Jamestown, although the theater is at the rear of the complex of buildings, at the intersection of Prendergast Avenue and Fifth Street.
The public entrance is located in the midsection of the building, facing Prendergast Avenue.
I suspect that it's going to be just great.
The many services provided by the Audubon Center and Sanctuary to the people and the natural elements of our area are surely known well by all.
Like every other public service organization in our nation, the Audubon Center and Sanctuary have been hit and hit hard by the current economy. On Friday, they are inviting the public to attend a gourmet dinner at Moonbrook Country Club, which will be the principal fundraiser for the organization and its activities.
The registration deadline for the dinner will be Monday, by the end of business, so it's important that you act promptly.
This year, the menu for the dinner will be what is known as ''field to fork,'' which means that all the food which will be served was grown in our county, so not only will your attendance be a boon to Audubon, it will be a boost to local raisers of food, as well.